Leadership and team glueing – Lessons from a Book and a Gorilla

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success-Henry Ford”.

It takes great skills to keep a team together, let alone make them work together. It sounds and works great on paper, but practically? What do you miss out when you try glueing your team together?

This is one of the difficulties in leadership.

This article is a compilation of bits from Richard Branson’s The Virgin Way, article on Why We Lie in National Geographic Magazine(June edition) and studies on the behaviour of the Silverback(the leader of the Gorilla pack).

These are some of the practices of the best Silverback(You):

1 Never have an understated vision.

The first and foremost mistake that most leaders do is that they don’t repeat the team’s vision, in other words, purpose, as often as it must be. We squeeze our brains as much as we can while framing them and after that, we let them hand mid air till it is long overdue to alter them. When you miss out on this, you miss out on your identity.

A morning routine suggested by all achievers is to write your purpose and ultimate goal every morning in your journal. By doing so, you reaffirm your goal and strengthen your identity. You will not get a better self-driving factor.

2 Open the mind and the ear

You can become the all powerful silverback and reduce the team to a pulp and use it as plant fodder if they don’t perform to your standards. Or you work along with the person and build an open and understanding relation.

With an open mind accepting team’s flaws is one step forward, and appreciating efforts is a leap. There is no denying that fact that you have to motivate and encourage your team as often as possible, but unless they are happy in the first place, it would never work. Richard Branson’s constant emphasis on how important it is to keep your employees happy is evident when you are around some of his staff. I have travelled in Virgin Trains few times, and it is impossible to miss the air of fun they have. A happy team means progress.

It does not stop there. The first chapter of The Virgin Way is on listening, which happens to be one of the missed out traits of most leaders. Make sure you listen to what your team has to say on every occasion. It can be during meetings or even a during a brief conversation in the elevator. Letting your team know that you are there for them will not only motivate them but also give them a chance to grow. Taking notes is one of Richard Branson’s pieces of advice for listening. You can do that with only 100% attention.

When you take notes, you not only hear what the other says but also hear the unspoken words.

How powerful is that?

3 The enthusiasm levels

Here is one instance from my life.

My 4-year-old niece was at her peak of crankiness. No one to play with her because all the “adults” were busy in the kitchen. The noise had to stop. I boiled some eggs and asked her to peel them for me. Guess what? The next 45 minutes she took for 4 eggs was her happiest moment of the day.

Getting everyone involved and sharing the fun is how a Silverback rolls. The Silverback does more than just protecting the pack. It even takes decisions on how much each Gorilla gets to eat, where they sleep and what they should not eat. But to top it, it decides what every member has to do.

4 Team Work is the way forward but…

Without proper bonding, lies in the form of excuses come into the picture. Research on why we lie says that humans are capable of lying for power, recognition, motivation or even for acceptance.

“As we grow we lose our innocence.”

And to lie is a sign of a properly developed cognitive mind. As adults, we are naturally good at it. All skills are put into excuses to avoid work or to cover up a mistake. That leads to underperformance and more lies again. The vicious circle that downturns growth.

5 Manage Time:

The above four points will not work without a properly managed time. As the Silverback you have the responsibility of managing your team and projects(The pack). Give every member of the pack your undivided attention, however long you have to, for the entire work year.

Honing your skills at planning your daily work schedule and a personal daily routine can effectively hep you become a better Silverback. With a troop of gorillas, you will feel a constant level of stress, panic and paranoia.

With the five habits Gather all – Greet all – G(C)reate and Go and be the best Silverback!

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4 thoughts on “Leadership and team glueing – Lessons from a Book and a Gorilla

  1. The happiness of your 4 year old niece would become a great teacher for you, to learn how to improve the involvement of a person in a team (i.e) giving them importance and making them to feel that we believe in them. Once again nice article Arun…

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    1. Working with kids is a great learning! You can try all sorts of things to see if it works. Best thing about kids is they dont hold grudges 🙂

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