How to Turn a Team of Competitors Into Collaborators
In her book Fall of the Alphas, Dana Ardi chronicles the slow death of the Alpha leader and the rise of the cooler, more community focused Beta leader.
The Alpha leader sits in an unapproachable corner office and barks orders; while the Beta leader knows his staff by name and gives them the autonomy they need to do their best work. Alpha organizations thrive on unhealthy competition, while Beta organizations understand the need for collaboration in an ever-changing global economy.
So how does an organization (or team) go from a take-no-prisoners work environment to one of creativity and collaboration? Here are 3 initial steps to changing the culture of your team:
Develop and support facilitators
Group dynamics demand some people rise to the top and others fall to the back. There is nothing inherently wrong with this as it simply would not work with everyone leading at the same time. Take note of individuals who naturally lead the group to efficiently make conclusions, understands next steps in formulating a plan, and helps feed creativity. Support these individuals by giving them the tools and authority to do what they do best.
Recognize and reward craftsmen
Then there are those in the group that actually formulate the creative ideas. These people are artists and may not have the type of leadership skills to lead a meeting but have the artistic skills to bring ideas to life. Give these individuals the recognition and rewards they deserve for keeping the team ahead of the curve.
Build a learning organization
Alpha organizations have deep-seated organizational structures that can make it difficult to introduce new ideas regardless of the research behind it. Encourage your teams to learn by making education accessible on an individual and organization-wide basis. This will lead to a culture of experimentation, openness, and collaboration.
Turning a team of competitors into collaborators is a culture shift, and culture shifts are hard– especially for older organizations and teams. But they can be exactly what is needed to breathe new life into a business that has not seen growth in a very long time.
So adjust your cultures accordingly, for collaboration is the future of work.