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Want a high performing team? Set the example and lead by doing nothing

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

There's old saying most of us are familiar with.

"If you want something done around here - best do it yourself"

A classic in it’s day, but can have the worse outcome of you being the one who ends up with all the work - and the more you do - the less others will.

Years ago I was in the unfortunate position of being a pallbearer for a family member.

For a frail elderly lady the casket was sure heavy and as we negotiated the outdoor terrain I found myself loosing a bit of my footing - a brief splash of dark humour passed through my mind as I momentarily eased up on the handle.

Surprise surprise the casket stayed suspended where it was - thankfully for the efforts of the other pallbearers.

I further realised that if I got tired I could just ease up and the extra load would be picked up by the others.

There actually is a very scientific name for this... but first...

"Maximilian Ringelmann, a French engineer, studied the performance of horses in 1913. He concluded that the power of two animals pulling a coach did not equal twice the power of a single horse.

Surprised by this result, he extended his research to humans. He had several men pull a rope and measured the force applied by each individual. On average, if two people were pulling together, each invested just 93 percent of his individual strength, when three pulled together, it was 85 percent, and with eight people, just 49 percent.”

Excerpt From: Rolf Dobelli. “The Art of Thinking Clearly.”

This phenomena termed as social loafing (see I told you it was very scientific) …. simply states that people are inclined to exert less effort on a task if they are part of a group versus when they work individually.

It’s often observed where the direct output of individual effort can’t be directly seen or easily measured. A large group meeting for example doesn’t often see 100% engagement and participation from 100% of the attendees - usually the 80/20 rule applies because that is all that’s really needed to achieve acceptable results.

If you find you are putting in a huge effort and finding yourself doing work that other people could and even should do - don’t expect them to voluntarily come and relieve you - you need to stop doing it.

Doing other people’s work could be part of the 80% of your day which contributes only 20% of your day's results, so to build your effectiveness you need to reduce or eliminate this activity.

If you want the best from your peers and team - lead by example and do nothing!

If you want an excellent explanation on social loafing check out this great article at About Health

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