So here’s what I think and you aren’t going to like it. There sure is a lot of talk about collaboration and driving towards a common goal, which is nice, in theory. But hold on a second and just think about your childhood.
If you had siblings, did you wander around your house, embracing each other in big group hugs? Well if you did, kudos to you. I am guessing that for most of us there was competition at the family dinner table. Who had better grades, who was the teacher’s favourite, who snagged the hottest date. And best of all: who was mom or dad’s favourite? Come on, admit it, they had favourites. As much as we seek to create harmony, Darwin was right; there is a process of natural selection even within families.
Now over to the playground: Did you truly play nice in the sandbox? There usually was a spot where the popular kids hung out and another location for the less than snazzy kids. I was one of those less than snazzy kids. The popular kids seemed to have it all, and to my knowledge, made no discernible effort to embrace us. How fair was that? Didn’t we have thoughts, ideas, something to contribute? There was divisiveness and who could blame them? Why would they be motivated to create a sense of collective? They believed they had it all.
Our corporate context also breeds stars. Career advancement, title, pay scales, bonuses, and global assignments all reinforce a culture around why and how individuals get rewarded. There is a set of rules around navigating successfully. Influencing and impacting others is important, as is supporting a team environment. Although high-functioning teams are rewarded, prized employees know when they are positioned for greatness. They are put on a list and in some shape or form told they are destined to go far.