Organizations are often run according to “the superchicken model,” where the value is placed on star employees who outperform others. And yet, this isn’t what drives the most high-achieving teams. Business leader Margaret Heffernan observes that it is social cohesion — built every coffee break, every time one team member asks another for help — that leads over time to great results. It’s a radical rethink of what drives us to do our best work, and what it means to be a leader. Because as Heffernan points out: “Companies don’t have ideas. Only people do.”
High achieving, successful groups have three characteristics:
- First of all, they showed high degrees of social sensitivity to each other.
- Secondly, the successful groups gave roughly equal time to each other, so that no one voice dominated, but neither were there any passengers.
- And thirdly, the more successful groups had more women in them.
So how does this play out in the real world? Well, it means that what happens between people really counts, because in groups that are highly attuned and sensitive to each other, ideas can flow and grow. People don’t get stuck. They don’t waste energy down dead ends.