I’m one of those folks who is BIG on collaboration and team-based work. I enjoy the give-and-take of vocal brainstorming and boisterous strategy planning sessions. I wholeheartedly embrace the trend toward revolutionizing educational systems by re-engineering classrooms and the way students learn (e.g. pods and collaborative teams within classrooms vs. desks & eyes forward, individual seat work, etc.).
I recently took my love of team-based learning and collaboration to the soccer field and began coaching my 6-year-old daughter’s co-ed indoor team. Although most of the kids enjoy gregarious pep talks and animated illustrations on what to do, one little girl barely speaks or makes eye contact with me or her teammates. I learned that she performs better with one on one coaching and motivation, so I adjust my leadership style to include more 1 on 1 technique demonstrations and encouragement. In turn, she performs flawlessly on the soccer field…she’s even smiles and “high-fives” her teammates after scoring a goal.
Although this is an over-simplified example, I can attest to the power of situational leadership. A recent New York Times article by Susan Cain explores the rise of anti-collaboration (or groupthink) in corporate culture today, and inadvertently underscores the importance of situational leadership (Paul Hersey & Ken Blanchard’s theory that effective leadership is task-specific…there is not “perfect” leadership style) – especially as it relates to leading those who learn and thrive in dynamic environments:
SOLITUDE is out of fashion. Our companies, our schools and our culture are in thrall to an idea I call the New Groupthink, which holds that creativity and achievement come from an oddly gregarious place. Most of us now work in teams, in offices without walls, for managers who prize people skills above all. Lone geniuses are out. Collaboration is in. But there’s a problem with this view. Research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption. And the most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted, according to studies by the psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist. They’re extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas, but see themselves as independent and individualistic. They’re not joiners by nature.
Click the title to read the article in it’s entirety…it’s a pretty good assessment of what happens when we don’t consider the individuals within the organizations we lead. Hopefully, the undertone of the article cautions us to put the latest management paradigm into perspective and consider how best to include the introverts within our enterprises in our plans for organizational success.