Is your business modeling the super-chicken approach

“If the only way the most productive can be successful is by suppressing the productivity of the rest, then we badly need to find a better way to work, and a richer way to live” – Margaret Heffernan. 

In her remarkable, insightful TED Talk on productivity, Margaret Heffernan talks about the challenges for businesses today in enhancing and growing productivity. Egg production had increased dramatically. All but three were dead, they have pecked the rest to death.  The three remaining chickens had achieved their success by suppressing the productivity of the rest. 

Many companies and business leaders can definitely relate to the challenges at play; too many super chickens within their organization resulting in a suppression of creativity and ultimately creating disharmony with aggression, dysfunction and waste. 

The three key ingredients to high performing teams: 

From experimentation on productivity, it has been found that high achieving groups are not those that had incredibly high intelligence. 

1.       Social sensitivity to one another

The highest performing team share this attribute of empathy. They treat one another with respect and equality. This was measured by the ‘’reading the mind in the eyes test’’, a test that has widely been used to measure the ability to recognize the thoughts and feelings of others. It analyses the ability to perceive, facilitate, understand and manage the emotions of others. Ultimately it is a measure of emotional intelligence, which proves to be much more important that IQ, or intellectual intelligence when it comes to high performing teams. The smartest leader is less effective than one with a lower IQ but higher emotional intelligence. 

2.       Equality of time 

The high performing teams also had the characteristic where equal measures of time and opinion were given to everyone in the group. There was less dominance by one or two leaders, and more equal contribution by everyone in the team. This is significant for a multiple of reasons. Those people who feel seen and heard feel more engaged and motivated. When people feel they are contributing to a cause higher than themselves and their ideas and valid and valued they are more likely to be motivated to succeed. 

3.       Have more women 

This is a very appropriate feature, given we have just celebrated international women’s day. Perhaps this is because women tend to score highly on the empathy scale and display higher levels of emotional intelligence. A team where there is an equal ratio of men and women also has greater levels of gender diversity and leads to more innovative thinking. There are plenty of recent studies that show that diverse teams can develop more innovative ideas. When people from differing contexts are working together, their unique perspectives can lead to higher levels of creativity. Leaders with diverse backgrounds and experience, are also more likely to create work cultures where new creative ideas are welcomed and encouraged. 

To summarise, social connectedness is ultimately the key to a work environment where ideas and creativity is a key characteristic f a team or an organisation.  

Time is everything. 

Another unique characteristic is helpfulness. If people are supported in a workplace where the underlying value is based on supporting the idea that you don’t need to know everything yourself, but you can reach out to others in your team who can help. What drives helpfulness is getting people to get to know one another better. 

But it takes time to develop social connectedness. Social capital compounds overt time.  

When an organisaiton is so busy with people focused on their individual work, there is no room for people getting to know one another organically. This leads to a diminishment of social connectedness. In a remote business model this is even more challenging. People need social support and they need to feel able to reach out and ask for help and work together as a team. We need greater social capital. 

We need to change the narrative from uplifting a few individuals within a team, but collectively the contributions a team can make. 

As Heffernan states; leaders who are facilitative, who remove ego are the ones with high performing teams. “Bringing out the best in others is how they found the best in themselves”. 

How does your team rate on a measure of social connectedness? Is there room for improvement? Are there too many super chickens in your team, or certain departments that could do with a re-think on how they work together as a team? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Could your leadership team benefit from one of my tailored workshops? Please get in touch today. I’d love to help

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