One of the biggest challenges that teams face is Individualism – “the pursuit of individual rather than common or collective interests“. It’s also known as “every man for himself” syndrome justified by the “survival of the fittest” theory.
Individualism is alive and well in the Western culture where the Hero appears, often in times of great adversity, to save the World… It’s about focusing on the traits and achievements of the Individual over who helped him become who he is and do what he does.
You couldn’t do it without me! Reward ME!
“But isn’t it good to identify and reward top performers like Jerome Simpson in this video?”
Of course that you need to identify, reward and keep your top talent!
It’s no secret that I’m a great believer, promoter and practitioner of The One Minute Management – developed by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. This methodology encourages you to take an extra minute to wander around in your organization, catch people doing things right and give them a one minute praising!
Acknowledging extraordinary individuals that take an extra minute to make a difference does wonders to their Motivation! Motivation generates the Energy that they need to boost their Productivity and Ambition to do more. Become more!
Are you rewarding behavior or results?
Imagine that your employee displayed the correct behavior on a costumer service interaction. However, the costumer didn’t responded as planned. In other words, the employee didn’t get the desired outcome from the costumer in spite of doing the right thing.
What would you do? How do you keep score?
I would keep rewarding his right behavior because Success it’s about persisting on applying the right success concepts, not over a short but over a long period of time.
However, just like Harvey Mackay, I don’t believe that practice makes perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect! You want constant, immediate and unfiltered feedback from your costumers. That feedback is exactly what you need to fine tune what you’re practicing every day. Otherwise you would be perfecting an error.
Got results? Great! Reward who got those results! Just make sure you know exactly who that is.
Let’s use the NFL video of Jerome Simpson scoring an unbelievable touch down. Sure, it was Jerome that scored the touchdown but only giving him the credit of that play is unfair to everyone involved and would reveal leadership short-sight.
What about the quarterback that made the pass? What about the guys in front of the quarterback that protected him from the vicious Cardinals defense? What about the coaches that planned and trained that play?
Individualism is believing that Jerome could do ALL that alone. Of course that The Cardinals wouldn’t score that touchdown without him. But isn’t that also true for the rest of the team members involved in that play AND the coaches that lead them to perform at that level?
What types of rewards are you using?
Another important thing to consider is considering the type of reward that you’re using. Are you using money or leadership to influence their behavior?
If you buy with money the right behavior that your employees must perform, they’ll do what you paid them to do. Until one day… You’re buying their Hands. However, it’s a matter of time until they show who they really are. Money is the easy way for you to get short-term results…
If you use Leadership to show them by your example how and why you do what you do, you’ll buy their Hearts. When you plant in their Hearts the desire to serve and Love their mission, their costumers and their team mates, you’ll also influence the thoughts and beliefs on their Heads. What’s in their Heads will show on their Hands by their behavior. And what we repeatedly do becomes our Habits. Then part of our Character and finally our Destiny.
“Leadership isn’t about getting people to do their job. Leadership is about getting people to do their best.” Harvey Mackay
We often feel good about ourselves when we do great things EVEN when we didn’t need to do them. Extraordinary individuals do extraordinary things not because they needed to (or for the reward) but because they wanted to.
[Research from Punished by Rewards: At least 70 studies have found that rewards tend to undermine interest in the task (or behavior) itself; this is one of the most thoroughly replicated findings in the field of social psychology.]
Leading beyond individual effort
Without the cooperation of its members society cannot survive, and the society of man has survived because the cooperativeness of its members made survival possible…. It was not an advantageous individual here and there who did so, but the group. In human societies the individuals who are most likely to survive are those who are best enabled to do so by their group. - Ashley Montagu, 1965
Even in such an individual sport like Tennis or Golf, Roger Federer or Tiger Woods didn’t achieve anything alone. They had coaches, family and even their competition that helped them reach further and use all their potential!
One of the ways that Individualism appears is when a person believes that they don’t need the help of their team, or from anyone else for that matter, to reach a goal.
They have self-serving EGOs that work in fundamentally two ways:
- Strong Self-Serving EGOs: “I’m two good to allow these people to slow me down! I’m going to Win this and I’ll do whatever it takes to reach it! I don’t need other people opinions or help. I KNOW it ALL!”
- Weak Self-Serving EGOs: “I’m worthless… I don’t know ANYTHING! I’m afraid they discover that I really can’t walk my talk… Besides my position and my power and status is everything to me. My self-worth is attached to this things… I won’t let them ruin everything!”
How can we change this? Leadership!
Towards the end of the Pleistocene period – about 12,000 years ago – humans foraged for food as hunter-gatherers. These groups competed against each other for survival.Under these conditions, altruism towards other group-members would improve the overall fitness of the group. If an individual defended the group but was killed, any genes that the individual shared with the overall group would still be passed on. - Why Altruism Paid of to our Ancestors from newscientist.com
We started this discussion talking about the “survival of the fittest” theory. But is the aggressive go-getter the-ends-justify-the-means person the most fittest? Dacher Keltner, a UC Berkeley psychologist and author of “Born to be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life”, doesn’t think so.
Because of our very vulnerable offspring, the fundamental task for human survival and gene replication is to take care of others.
Human beings have survived as a species because we have evolved the capacities to care for those in need and to cooperate. As Darwin long ago surmised, sympathy is our strongest instinct. - from ScienceDaily.com (May, 2012)
Recent studies in Team effectiveness and leadership showed that “the most effective teams in this sample were the teams whose leaders helped them to build the confidence to set high goals and who helped to encourage effective team processes; this is an important practical conclusion of this research” (QUIGLEY, 2003).
Time to think BIG. TRUMP BIG!
- It starts with the details
- Get a momentum going and keep it going
- Stay focused
- Look at the solution. Not the problem
- See opportunity for what is: an opportunity
- Know everything you can about what you’re doing
- Be lucky
- See yourself as victorious
- Be smart
- NEVER GIVE UP!
Why you should stop trying to build a great team?
To build a great team, give people ambitious and inspiring goals that they can’t reach alone and they’ll become a team. Lead them towards greatness!
The great use of Life is to spend it for something that will outlast it” – William James
A team isn’t something you build using people. A team is something you LEAD people to become.
Jesus, the greatest leadership role-model of all time, talked about individualism and leadership to his disciples when they were starting to fall a part as a team because of their self-serving needs for recognition and power:
He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” - Mark 9:35
Even if you don’t have a leadership position in your team, you can influence them by your example.
Be the change you want to see in the World. - Gandhi
This is The Rabbit Way. What’s yours?
Share your ideas about what it takes to build great teams. How you handle the need for individual recognition? Do you reward behavior or results?