I’ve been reading my Harvard Business Review again – and yes, I’m about a year behind. But I was thumbing through the May, 2016 issue, and I caught this little tidbit that I thought really applied to the life and work of a Revolutionary Assistant.
The article is called “Collaboration: Powerful People Perform Badly on Teams.”
I could have written that article. You could have, too.
Yes, according to the research that produced this five-paragraph passage to enlightenment, authors John Angus D. Hildreth and Cameron Anderson found that “high-power individuals tend to be overly confident, devalue others’ contributions, take credit for others’ ideas, and interrupt—all negative behaviors when collaborating.”
To determine this, they ran a series of experiments, the first of which was a team of two people (a leader and a follower), building a tower of toothpicks and candy. The first group was evaluated and decisions made from the results of that to do a second experiment. The second was a team of three that was assigned a project involving creativity. The teams of three, when made up of all high-powered individuals, were less creative, less focused, shared less information and had fewer interactions.
When your high-powered executive, that executive with the short attention span who’s oblivious to detail, is in a collaborative situation, there are roles he or she should be playing. Being equal to the rest of the group probably isn’t one of them. But a great leader puts collaboration in motion (both in meeting situations and in work environments) by affecting some of the things that can bring it to a standstill.
“Everyone is equal here” – That’s never true, but the executive can certainly make everyone a little more equal than they were when they walked in. Help your manager level the playing field by giving all team members a voice and making sure they’re treated with equal respect.
Communication is key – Creating a collaborative environment means making sure all your employees are aware of the others and have opportunities to talk to one another throughout the day. Being collaborative when you’re in a room together means that everyone is heard. Help your manager seek input from the quiet team members and make sure the loud ones take a break so that others can contribute.
Even out the assignments – Team members can’t contribute or collaborate when they’re so buried in work they don’t have time for anything else. Whether in a meeting situation or in a work environment situation, help your manager make sure that work is being distributed evenly, that Joe has the time and energy to contribute.
High-powered leaders have a place in the collaboration scheme, but usually they’re far better at orchestrating it. Like you would in any other group, play each person to their strengths. Your executive’s strength is creating music from the noise his team spews, so let the collaboration sing while he holds the director’s baton!
Next Post: Wednesday, May 17