This blog post originally published in September 2009, just a few days after we launched the Turning Managers Into Leaders blog for the very first time. Today, over 10 years later, this story about teamwork and synergy is as relevant to leaders as it was then. I hope you enjoy this blast from the past.
There is a classic Aesop’s fable that offers a great lesson to leaders about synergy and teamwork. A father whose sons were always fighting wanted to show them the value of the synergy that comes from working together. So he had one of the sons bring him a bundle of sticks. He gathered his sons around him, and one at a time, he asked each young man to take the bundle of sticks and try to break it. None succeeded. He then split open the bundle, and handed each son one or two sticks, asking them once again to try to break them. This time, the sons did so easily. “You see boys,” he said. “Individually, these sticks do not have much strength, but when you combine their individual might, they form something of much greater power. Separately, you can be broken, but together, you are stronger.”
From teamwork comes synergy
This ageless fable carries a solid message about the synergy that comes from teamwork. As a leader, you have people who are responsible for different tasks. There is no doubt that individually, each one of these person’s roles is important, but the real power comes when you can get your people to work in synergy – to combine their individual skills and strengths to form a single cohesive unit that is greater than the sum of its individual parts.
So as a leader, objectively assess your team to see where there are strengths and where knowledge or skill gaps exist. Then work to fill those gaps. Encourage your employees to share their experiences and insights with one other. Make it safe for your staff to acknowledge when they need help from someone else. These are the things that will help you capitalize on the power of synergy. This is what will give you the incredible benefits that characterize teamwork.
So are you working to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts? Are you working to capitalize on synergy? Please share your experiences by adding your comment below.