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Why standing out is the enemy of success

“Here’s to the Crazy Ones,” goes that soulful 1980s TV ad for Apple. If you’re over a certain age, you saw it first...
Why standing out is the enemy of success

Why standing out is the enemy of success




Stuart Hearn

Founder




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“Here’s to the Crazy Ones,” goes that soulful 1980s TV ad for Apple. If you’re over a certain age, you saw it first time round. If you’re not, someone has almost certainly sent it to you on Linkedin or Facebook with the caption “SO TRUE!!!!!”. It celebrates “the misfits; the rebels; the square pegs in the round holes”. It splices archive footage of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Einstein and… er… Richard Branson, celebrating the visionary thinkers that gave us Indian independence through nonviolent resistance, huge advances in the civil rights movement, several theories of relativity and Virgin Trains. They change things. They’re heroes. Who wouldn’t want to be one of those?

Now, this isn’t the first chance we’ve had to reference Project Aristotle, Google’s famous research work identifying the ingredients for the perfect team. We’ve used it in the past to talk about psychological safety, for example. Here, we’re more interested in what Google’s researchers called “equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking”. High-performing teams, it turns out, all manage to share the microphone when it comes to voicing their opinions. Once one person starts to hog the limelight and talk over people, collective intelligence immediately starts to drop.

 

 

 

It makes sense, doesn’t it? I’ll wager that everyone reading this has endured a meeting or two - maybe a year or two - with someone whose opinion is just more important than everyone else’s. Apple’s TV spot celebrated the lone wolf, ploughing their own furrow and getting stuff done in the face of the naysayers. Where would we, the herd, be without them? Now, thanks to Google’s research, we know: further on and much happier.

Why are we so in love with this vision of high performance? Don’t we understand, by now, that the vast majority of our work is done in teams? It’s collaboration that moves the dial. Individualism is the enemy of intelligence: it shuts down debate and neuters opinion. Giving people the space and tools to talk constructively, and the permission to criticise without it becoming personal, are the essential ingredients of high performance. Google’s research was quite clear on this, and it’s something we see again and again with our customers: that openness and trust within teams, enabled by frequent discussion and feedback, boost both performance and engagement. Don’t fall for the myth of the ninja. Don’t celebrate the crazy ones. They may shout the loudest, but they suffocate the real route to high performance: democracy.

 

Clear Review is a cloud-based performance management software platform designed to help organisations move away from broken annual appraisals and to a model of continuous performance development supported by frequent feedback and agile goal-setting. Its founder, Stuart Hearn, is a 20-year veteran of HR at international businesses including Sony and BP.

 

Clear Review is a cloud-based performance management software platform designed to help organisations move away from broken annual appraisals and to a model of continuous performance development supported by frequent feedback and agile goal-setting. Its founder, Stuart Hearn, is a 20-year veteran of HR at international businesses including Sony and BP.

 

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