On life…and learning

Do You Too Like To Work With Your Clones?

with 4 comments


“I would like my team to think like me.”

“I am proud of my team’s bonding – they are all like-minded people.”

“In this team, we do things in the same tried and tested way. Our experience says that always works.”

“Why can’t my teammates think and behave like me?”

“Can you hire for me a person who can do this exactly the way as I?”

Chances are, you would have heard at least one of the above statements quite recently from a team-leader or a manager around you.

Often, I meet employees who work in a team and are unhappy with the way the leader behaves or operates, with the culture of the team, with lack of respect and recognition, and many other similar gaps leading to their poor engagement at work. However, one striking aspect that makes them most annoyed and disengaged is the leader’s expectation of them having & displaying same operating style and similar thought process as him. Not respecting diversity of opinion and styles of working, to my mind, are the biggest elements behind poor engagement of any team. I concede that it is the leader of the team who decides the path ahead and selects the team-membes to execute that vision. However, it is an abundantly misplaced notion that a great team is one in which everyone was hired for similarity of style, attitude and experience as the leader. In all my experience of building & leading high performance teams, I learnt that a strong team is one where everyone brings diversity of traits, experience, operating style and interests.

Let’s take an example of a Gardener, who, let’s say has space for planting about fifty small plants. To achieve a lush, blooming garden, will she sow the same species of flowers or plants in her garden? And then give every plant the same type of soil, same quality of manure and amount of sunlight? Or will she water all of them in the similar fashion? And then expect the garden to bloom with flowers of all colours? Won’t that be naïve?

Think of it; if a team is expected to behave just like the leader and is rather built with an intention to mirror the leader’s thinking and execution style, who would perform the quintessential task of raising questions or bringing different perspectives while dealing with a situation? Now, won’t that be too risky a proposition?

A really effective leader is one who has developed a skill of managing a diverse team, and I am not only referring to the diversity of gender, but diversity of thought-process, experience and interests, style and attitude. And then nurture and lead them all into forming a strong, cohesive unit, delivering consistently superior performance.

I am leaving you with my favourite quote on team-leadership:

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 Do you know leaders who like to work only with their clones? Do share your experiences…


Photo-credit: theideabrand.com

4 Responses

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  1. It gives me immense pleasure to read your Blog… Nobody can imagine the heartthrob of ccc will turn into such a fabulous writter.. its gud to see u after such a long time…


    June 19, 2013 at 1:17 AM

  2. Hi RRG

    Good discussion point that you have picked up. Cloning feels good. Albeit initially. To my mind, and experience, diversity of opinions, approaches, is what brings positive movement in a team. I think, to start with, everybody likes clones. Its easier. It starts right at school – birds of same of feather flock together. But then, some people grow out of it sooner, some later, and sadly, some never. Yes, I know some of the “never” category!

    Harsh Saxena

    June 19, 2013 at 7:27 AM

    • Thanks, Harsh. You have added a new dimension. I guess we have all seen and met people who never stop wishing for clones and whooshing away the diversity. And the catch could be costly – no one would be there to call out for any possible pit-holes in the thinking and attitude, consequently failing to stop the team from treading an alltogether wrong path. That is what we leaders need to watch out for.


      June 19, 2013 at 11:09 AM

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