Hello SOTGC community,
Here is a post inspired by the second Hunger Games book. Once again, Katniss and Peta find themselves back in the arena of death. However this is a much different scenario. Unbeknownst to her, Katniss is now the official symbol for the rebellion (her and the Mocking jay). A team has been built around her that will act as her alliance in the arena. Along with Peta, several other equally strong and capable (either via intellect or pure strength) are part of the team that will fight alongside Katniss to ensure her safety.
However, we see a huge power struggle the entire time between Katniss and another young lady, Johanna. At almost every step of the way Johanna throws digs and snide comments towards Katniss. At one point Katniss gets so frustrated she starts wondering why Johanna has even decided to join them since she obviously can’t stand her. When you are in a life or death situation, having someone who is SUPPOSED to be on the same team constantly fighting you and your decisions is kind of the opposite of what you need.
The same goes for a work dynamic. In our careers we will often find ourselves working in teams, with one team goal, and sometimes we will even be rated individually by how well we work with and contribute to the team. Even in sales, where we are very autonomous and interact very rarely with our teammates directly, we still have team goals and we are looked at as a Region. One cohesive unit. We are as strong as our top player, and as weak as our most feeble link. This will undoubtedly create a sense of animosity in the group. There is always an alpha, who isn’t granted this title, and is resentful for it, so spends their time trying to chop down the leader.
I don’t see this as much with males as I do with females. Males tend to verbally “check each other into the glass” (to use a hockey term) when someone gets out of line and goes against the leader. Even if they don’t agree with the person or even like them that much, they respect the order of rank, the team mentality, and they make an effort to do their part. You see more of the “alpha chopping” happening among women (in my observations, at least.) And if you ever look over at a female co-worker and say “go into the bathroom, untwist your panties, then hustle back out here and actually HELP OUT!” You will most likely find yourself in HR mediation…so I don’t recommend this.
Why do we do this? Why can’t we lend a hand to the team, to put differences aside for the good of the group and for the main goal at hand, and just let the snide comments go? Why can’t open communication happen more? For instance, I was in charge of helping train a new hire a couple years ago. I have a very direct personality and was offering suggestions on an account she was working that I spent months opening, then handed off to her. I also let her know that at any point along the way, if she feels I’m pushing her too hard, to please let me know. Instead of coming to me when she didn’t want my advice or help, she went behind my back and told our manager that I was trying to boss her around. WTF lady?!?!?!
Katniss and Johanna were finally able to sort out their differences and get along well enough for the common goal to prevail. However, it took a lot longer than it should have, and their team suffered for it along the way. I hope that I will always verbally check myself, or someone who is close to me will do it if they see me getting out of hand, because I would hate to be the one that causes the team to miss their goals simply because my ego is too big to allow for others to contribute and lead.
So how about you? Are you currently working on a team where you either participate in, or are witnessing some “alpha chopping” going on? Can you take a step back and look at the big picture and realize that while it’s good to have your own strategy in place and be mindful of others’ agendas, it’s causing more harm than good in butting heads with your leader or teammate? If you look at the consistent winning college sports teams, I bet every one of those players is NOT best friends…but while they’re on that court or field, they put aside their differences, and they concentrate solely on the team goal. Just remember, no matter how much of a super star you are, when you’re on a winning team, your visibility will AWLAYS be higher than being the star on the team that consistently struggles…