Have We Gone Too Far in Promoting Collaboration?


Overuse of a strength becomes a weakness. I wrote about this in Quiet Influence, a book that emphasized the 6 key strengths of introverted influencers. For example, a strength like listening can be used to make a difference, but overused, opinions never get heard.

One area where we have overused an organizational strength IMHO, (or “in my humble opinion” like my spouse Bill often says), is teamwork. Teams are not always the best way to structure work. I have learned from introverts that there needs to be solitary work time if we are to get the best out of everyone. ALL of us benefit including Introverts, Ambiverts, and Extroverts.

I was invited to write a Viewpoint article for HR Magazine and jumped at the chance. This column takes a contrary view to the prevailing wisdom that teams are a given on just about any project.  The key points come from new research in The Introverted Leader, 2nd edition.

Here is an excerpt:

I was eating a sandwich in the break room of a company where I did some consulting work when I glanced up and saw it: a poster depicting a crew of young, energetic rowers paddling their boat across the water in perfect synchronicity. You probably know the one. The headline reads “There’s no ‘I’ in teamwork!” 

Well, maybe there should be—at least some of the time. Over the past 12 years, I have been studying and writing about introverts at work. Introverts, who get their energy from within, make up between 40 percent and 60 percent of our workforce. For them, time alone can be critical to recharging and contributing to the creative process. 

Don’t get me wrong. When employees collaborate to brainstorm and feed off each other’s energy, great things can happen. In fact, my research has found that teams of “genius opposites”—that is, those that balance introverts and extroverts—get exponentially more accomplished together than their individual members would alone.  Keep reading here.

You can download a free chapter here of The Introverted Leader 2nd edition to get a taste of these and other new learnings about introverted leadership.

Do you agree that we have gone too far in collaboration?


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