How To Create Team Synergy

It’s often said that organization and coordination, as much as talent, is the key to long-term success. Nothing could be more true when it comes to getting many talented people to work together.

Much like cooking, team-building requires the careful study of basic principles over many individual cases until the skill-learner can begin to understand the core principles that will allow them to improvise without creating disaster. After getting the basic sense of how recipes work, the cook can make a snap decision to throw in a handful of cilantro (even though the recipe called for oregano). In exactly the same way, a skilled leader or manager can make instantaneous decisions with huge team-building impact.

Building a team of dynamic individuals and uniting them into an effective whole is all about developing a keen practical sense of how to harness the forces that drive the individual to greatness. But at the same time, you have to keep those forces that create the potential for greatness from manifesting their hidden potentially-destructive sides. Any driven person is aware of the importance of pride in the pursuit of greatness: without pride, there’s nothing compelling you toward extraordinary performances. But pride can also decimate a group, throwing up walls of resentment between team members. It’s crucial to develop an understanding of good pride versus bad pride if you’re going to capture the power of pride while avoiding its perils.

Good pride: Induces pro-social, cooperative behavior.

When we value the esteem of our peers, it incentivizes us to treat them well. Think about going on a date with someone you’re hoping to impress: because your self-image depends on this person’s evaluation of you, your pride will spur you to engage in pro-social behaviors, such as demonstrating interest in their thoughts, being flexible, and giving them the benefit of the doubt. The key is that your desire to think well of yourself has to be realized through this other person’s opinion of you. As a result, you’ll do everything you can to earn their genuine regard. It’s only because you respect them that your “good pride” is engaged, pushing you to be better.

Bad pride: Creates a toxic environment of antisocial, uncooperative behavior.

Bad pride thrives when each team member considers their merits only on their own evaluation, and does not value their peers’ opinion enough to want to secure their fellows’ regard. When individuals are so prideful that they don’t feel that their team members’ opinions bear any relation to the quality of their own performance, they will demonstrate palpable scorn for others. This destroys their motivation to be better—after all, what does it matter?

So how do you effectively create a culture of good pride in your team? Emphasize the importance of honest, caring feedback rather than just hollow, vague affirmations among the team. Go out of your way to praise individual team members for specific contributions. By showing your team how to value the unique perspective and skills each one brings, you’ll help them realize that they have things to learn from each other.