So what kind of team members do you attract?
If one looks closely, it will be easy to decode a pattern in the kind of team members all leaders appear to attract. There shall be distinct signs of common threads that will run through the team members, particularly over a period of time. It is the managerial equivalent of ‘birds of the same feather flock together’ – only that it is not that benevolent. Let us explore this phenomena a little bit more.
Subconsciously and inadvertently, we want to be surrounded by people who are a lot like us. It is pontification of a very idealistic kind that suggests that we should have team members who can challenge us, hold a different opinion, tread the contra path and so on and so forth; however, the cabins and cubicles are littered with the debris of how most leaders deal with contrary viewpoints and team members who can resolutely challenge their positions on matters small and large.
The reasons are far and many – from a sense of insecurity to a perceived sense of affront, from bruised egos to fleeting but distinct possibility of being proven wrong – the ability of a common leader to deal with opinions and personalities radically different to his/her own is woefully scarce.
In odds so fundamentally and dramatically stacked against the person who is ‘different’, it is not a surprise that inadvertently and subconsciously every leader seems to attract and breed more of his/her kind at worst and at least not radically differently from him/her at best.
So what kind of team members you attract? At a functional level, the scenario is bad but not tragic, at least immediately. The worst that can happen is that the leader and the subordinate have pretty similar experiences and methods – their exposure is of similar kinds of industries, companies, functions and projects. They may have beliefs on similar kinds of business models, assumptions of what works and what does not and finally in possessing very similar ‘tricks of success’. Last but not the least, they will tend to bet on people who are of their kind and the entire system appears to look like one homogenous monolith. The small flickers of contra opinions, alternative hypothesis, different viewpoints asphyxiate themselves to a premature and tragic death. No one needs to do anything dramatic or violent – the murder appears like natural death.
It is at the level of what kind of human beings come together where the real crises brews – unseen but insidious. The gregarious and the extrovert might have a preference of that kind. The pensive, thoughtful and the introvert might show an inclination of their kind too. However, this is still a generalization – the real ones are in the layer beneath this. The political will attract the political. The brownie point collector will attract the ones whose interest is in collecting precisely those. The one who is a closet individualist, who believes that personal gains and individual credit always overrules the team and the function, will attract only those kinds. The survivor-at-all-costs will only beget the ones like him.
In many ways the attraction of others of the same kind is fact a case of survival – that is to say that only those kinds will actually survive with that kind of leader. Others who are not like that or whose operating philosophies are different or who put emphasis and importance of other values will just be like fish out of water in the culture such a leader will foster. Over a period of time only the political will survive with a politician isn’t it?
Ecosystems require favorable circumstances to survive. The ingenious and the innovative cannot survive with leaders who themselves are status quoists and recyclists — irrespective of what noises they make to the contrary.
The team players enjoy and give their best for the team where the captain lives the values of team work – where what happens on the ground and the dressing room are not contrary to each other but are perfectly aligned! The paper pusher alienates the decisive. The sloth frustrates the fast. The need for validation in some creates a fertile ground for sycophants that the independent minded find nauseous. The sloganeer denies the actual worker his joy and glory.
I must hasten to add that most of this is inadvertent and subconscious. No one in his/her right mind would do this deliberately. I shall leave the incidence and prevalence of this phenomenon to our individual observation around. Look for patterns and see if the hypothesis has merit in it or is it mere scaremongering. Finally a word of caution in this research — look at things as they are and not as they should be!