The following teamwork story illustrates the need for every member of the team regardless of their differing talents and gifts. It is a powerful reminder of why leaders and team members must embrace diversity.
Have you ever heard of the Aesop Fable, “The Belly and the Members?” As you read the following story I encourage you to think about your own teams and how this might apply. One day it occurred to The Members (parts) of the Body that they were doing all of the work while the Belly got all of the food. They believed the Belly was lazy and unproductive.
It was decided that they would hold a meeting that evening to discuss how unfair this seemed. After what was a very long meeting that night it was voted on that The Members of the Body would go on strike until the Belly agreed to take its proper share of the work.
The unhappy body parts didn’t do anything for several days in an attempt to stop feeding the Belly. The Legs stopped walking, the Hands stopped moving and the Teeth stopped chewing. As a result of this inactivity and the starving of the Belly, the Legs became more and more tired, the Hands could hardly move anymore and the Mouth became parched and very dry.
Eventually the entire Body collapsed and passed away as the Belly completely starved.
What is the moral of the story? Team dynamics are complex. Here are four important team tips to remember:
• Some members of the teams contributions may seem less significant or of less value than others. Especially as it compares to those louder and possibly more prominent members of the team.
• It is important that every member of the team understands their unique roles and what they bring to the team. It is also important that they clearly understand everyone else’s roles and contributions.
• Another moral of this story is the need for teams to refrain from evil speaking of each other, gossip, jumping to conclusions and a whole host of other potential team illnesses. Doing so weakens teams and organizations.
• While team member accountability is critical, it should never become personal or be based on ill-fated assumptions. Accountability must be based on trust, which is not something that magically happens, it must be built consciously and over time.
• Because everyone in the organization or on the team plays an important role to the success of the agreed upon goals, the vision and goals of the leader must be cascaded up and down the organization so everyone is in alignment.