Friday 29 November 2013

Best predictor of group effectiveness?

As I have remarked before, it is always pleasing to come across research that matches and validates one's own beliefs and values.

In this case, it is an article by Adam Grant in the McKinsey Quarterly, called Givers take all: The hidden dimension of corporate culture.  In it, Grant argues that the single strongest predictor of group effectiveness is the amount of help that people give to each other.

Note that this is not just about individuals being prepared to offer help, but also for that help to be accepted: that is to say, it is about a culture in which people are both generous and open with their time and their skills, but also have sufficient humility to recognise that they need help.

He explores not only why this might be the case, but also how to go about developing such a culture, and cites many examples, including the intriguing Reciprocity Ring exercise, with which I shall experiment (watch this space).

I won't summarise the whole thing here: it is worth reading in full - not least for the wonderful example with which Grant concludes his piece. I have no doubt the book, on which the article is based, would be worth reading, too.

As a Christian (work in progress) I have long thought about the relationship between virtues and leadership (and organisational behaviour more generally). 

I think one could draw up a remarkably robust set of corporate values based on the virtues: faith, hope, charity; justice, fortitude, prudence and temperance.  

So I am delighted to see that work like this validates such things as charity and indeed humility. Understanding the value of virtues is one thing; putting them into practice is, of course, another and more difficult challenge.  But as Grant points out, in his final paragraph, walking the talk is essential (or as one team I worked with put it: we may not always walk the talk, but be do try to stumble the mumble.)

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