There has been a lot posted lately about my efforts in Veterans Transitions – and there will be more. But today, I wanted to take a step back and bring up something that has more to do with general Leadership and Team Building.
While there are many “definitions” of Leadership – most generally focus around the idea of organizing a group of individuals into a team with the focus of reaching a common goal. Most importantly – there is a focus on a common goal. There are many studies, theories and methodologies out there that speak to the multitude of motivational theories and personality matching that goes into building a cohesive team that will reach and set new goals. For fun, I’m going to dumb-down to look at a comparison.
I’ve seen motivation of 2 or more individuals based on their desire to achieve a goal that benefits both to a level greater than could be obtainable if each attempted to do so on their own (This would suggest synergy – a more comprehensive and overall better explanation can be taken from Stephen Covey’s The 3rd Alternative. Is the bond, and level of cohesion in that scenario as strong, stronger, or inferior to the bond and level of cohesion obtained when 2 or more are united by a common enemy?
Now I have thought about this… and I am not sure which is more powerful in the long run. However, in thought – I believe being united by a common enemy is often more influential and bonding when dealing with a diverse group of individuals with pre-existing aversions towards each other. I’ve also seen many examples of manipulating individuals into bonding through the threat of a common enemy – as I am sure most of you have. Let’s look at some.
If you have had siblings – How many times were you and your sibling punished after bickering or fighting by your parents? So much so that the punishment dealt by your parents made you and your sibling work together to bare the punishment, or even more so, try to out-smart your parent – after such you and your sibling(s) were left with a tighter bond and deeper understanding of each other?
If you are in a direct sales role, where multiple sales teams operate in the same region – there is that one sales team that always wins the contests and bonuses. You find yourself teaming up and sharing ideas with another team – that would normally be competition, almost solely for the sake of keeping the top team from winning once again.
In the military – it happens EVERY DAY at the ground roots. In one of the finest and most renowned leadership courses our nation has seen, high school graduates by the hundreds, from all over the nation land on yellow foot prints at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego or Parris Island. Many times with the testosterone drive, A-type personalities sought after by USMC recruiters. Once assigned to a platoon, before they can figure out if they like each other or not – recruits realize their greatest, and only ally against the wrath of Drill Instructors is each other. If you’ve yet to see what Recruits will do, as a cohesive unit, in an effort to avoid the wrath or even further impress their Drill Instructors – you might be grossly underestimating the power of unity through a common “enemy”.
Anyhow, there are many ways to motivate a group of individuals in order to create a team. But many of the most cohesive, successful and well-oiled teams I’ve formed, been a part of, or observed have all at some point, experienced a period of bonding induced by their own unity against a common enemy. By no means is that the solution to building a team – but a very interesting piece of the puzzle to be considered.
How have you seen it in your situation?