Nature Gives Us Clues
If you were going to pick a model from nature for how to create and operate as a great team, which animal would you pick?
How about lions, tigers, hippos or bears?
Those species are known to eat their young, or the new guy or gal on the team, in our analogy. That doesn’t make for good team building!
How about wolves or hyenas?
These animals are known to constantly have ego fights for dominance—definitely not good for trust and the morale of a team.
How about salmon?
Certainly their long struggle to swim upstream in dedication to duplicate (procreate) the team has to be a good role model, right? Yeah, well, the only problem is, once they have finally done the quiver (seriously, that’s what they do—they align themselves next to each other and “quiver” while they each do their part of the act), they die. That can’t be good if every time new people are brought into your team the leaders die. So salmon are out.
I know what you are thinking… eagles, right?
Eagles are good role models for soaring to individual heights, but they are poor team players. They are known to be territorial, pretty hostile toward one another and constantly stealing prey from one another.
Get this… momma eagle usually lays two eggs and most often the bigger of the two siblings (which is usually the female, as they come out bigger) kills the other sibling while mom looking on (harsh, right?). No, you don’t want the new recruits killing each other or the leaders stealing sales and clients from each other. Eagles, team players? Not so much.
No, the animal species you want to learn from and emulate in working together as a team are… ducks.
Ducks, because they work together to accomplish feats that seem unimaginable and impossible for most any other animal.
Ducks fly distances of hundreds or even thousands of miles, a distance almost no other animal can travel and it’s possible only because they do it as a team.
As you know, ducks fly together in formation. As each duck flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird following and that is perpetuated throughout their V formation. Each duck takes its turn leading the flock in flight. When the lead duck gets tired, it fades from the front and is enveloped back into the fold of the flock and naturally another bird takes the lead. By working together, the whole flock adds 71% more flying range than if each bird flew alone.
Like ducks, people naturally gravitate toward organizations that will shelter and protect them and make their life easier than if they were left to fend for themselves. I have found that people want to belong; they want to be a part of a team. It gives them a sense of purpose, where they can be a part of something bigger than themselves.
I also find that most people perform to their greater potential when on a team than when on their own. They rise to meet the expectations of the team; if left alone to their own motivations, they wouldn’t push themselves nearly as hard.
I find that lots of people do more for the recognition of others than for their own satisfaction. Thus, team environments are a powerful force for drawing out the best within our individual potentials for achievement.
Amazing feats are created when the collective whole becomes greater than the sum of the individual parts. That occurs when teamwork is working well.
So in business, people who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier when they travel on the thrust of one another.
As leaders, it is our job to cast the vision and enroll others to share in that vision. As teams, we need to help one another and to offer encouragement and support as the success of the individual creates uplift for the rest of the flock… or team.
Over the next few posts I will reveal the single most sabotaging factor of why teams even made up of great people will fail, and the two most important ingredients for building great teams who perform way beyond their individual capabilities.
Do you perform better when supported and challenged by teammates? Why? What has been your experience? Please share in the comments below.4919