Are you a team player?
Scientists have statrd that life on Earth started about 4 billions years ago. Humans came in the picture much later and they were about 200 millions at Anno Domini 1. Nowadays the population exceeds 7 billions. There’s no wonder that the place is getting crowded. From the very beginning, in the surviving equation the team work played a strategic role. In Paleolithic, one could have his own cave and several km personal space, but for very sure the need for safety kept the people together. In 2013, with the help of technology living alone is much easier; the space is on the other hand a challenge. In the end, for a reason or another we have stay together and work as a team. From which the question: Are you a team player
There are many studies about the most important qualities of a team player: reliability, constructive communication, active listening, cooperation, flexibility, and problem solving attitude, respect for the others and so on…
Let’s think about problem solving attitude. There are a lot of people out there and just few of them have “the problem solving attitude”.
Some of them are problems avoiders, which postponed the “challenge” and hope that it will be forgotten or that someone else will deal with it.
Some of them are problem-dwellers, which are in a permanent state of dealing with problems, repeating them and finally enjoying being permanently under pressure.
Some of them are problem blamers. Is this familiar? The reason for so bad results or wrong decisions is never my fault, not even my team fault, but the other team, the society, the weather, the constellation with Jupiter is Saturn that had a bad influence on karma.
How easy it would be just to look at the facts and see what can be done. Small steps to correct the problem and push it in the right directions. This is where all of us should try to be.
I have learnt the importance of this skill on the hard way.
I was renovating my house and I needed help. A friend of mine recommended me her friend, who had a construction firm and who was lately out of contracts. From my perspective I was helping the man by giving him work; from his prospective he was making me a favor by giving me a “friend” discount. And then, the problems started. He was heavily criticizing the flat: it was too old, why didn’t I build a new one? the materials of the walls – very difficult to fixed, the quality of the door: just throw them away and buy new ones – you can’t fix/paint these.
I could see from the start that things are not going well, but I was avoiding the problem by smiling nicely and hopping for the best. This strategy did not last, because in the end, he had got a better offer and decided to leave the work in the middle and he has sent me the bill, obviously higher than we initially agreed.
The advice from “customer protection” was to pay the bill and sue him afterwards. The process was estimated to be a financial pain, even in case that we would have won it.
What did I learn from this?
When confronting with a problem, solve it – do not delay it. I could have look more and find someone satisfied with the contract. There was no constructive communication in this team, no active listening and definitely no that cooperation.
Let’s look at the cooperation skill now.
Cooperation, or winning together. Do you remember bar scene from the “Beautiful mind” where Russell Crowe was playing the brilliant Nobel laureate professor John Nash?
4 male friends were trying in a bar to pick up women, when 4 brunettes and 1 blonde appeared. The first impulse was that all of them would go for the blonde – because everyone knows that the blonde have more fun. Having such a large offer, she will put off and talk to none of them. In that case it will be too late to switch for the brunettes, because no one wants to be the second chance. This will be in contradiction with Adam Smith’s theory, who claims that individual ambitions serve the common good, because all of them will go home alone in the end.
After a flash of inspiration Nash proposes that all of them should go for brunette. The girls will be flattered that they also know that “the blonde have more fun” in that case all will win, except for the blonde. “No one for the blonde” brought Nash a Nobel price for economy.
Not shown in the picture was the third strategy where 3 were going for the brunettes and the main character was going for blonde. „One for the blonde” is better for the group than the Nash/Crowe proposal. This important property is known as Pareto optimality, after the French economist Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923). Economists use Pareto optimality to evaluate overall wellbeing.
What can we learn from this? Besides that picking a girl in bar requires fundamental knowledge of game theory?
That cooperation will always bring more values to the team than individual ambitions. “All for brunette” or “one for blonde” is always better that all for blonde and going home alone. This is the reason why the head hunters will always value higher the cooperation skills than the expertise level. Excepting the case when you a mathematical genius with a beautiful mind.
Concluding, I would say: since we have to work in a team is very important to choose carefully your own and remember: problem solving attitude and cooperation are the keys to success. Like Marva Collins said “Success doesn’t come to you, you go to it.”
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