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What should drive results - the heart or brain?


By Leadership - Posted on 19 February 2011

Team BuildingLast week I participated in a team building session with a set of very successful leaders/ managers. Roughly about 50 people participated in this session. The group was split into 4 teams. All four teams had to do just one assignment. Each team had to sing a song of their making for three minutes in chorus. They could copy from any popular song. However, music instruments need to be mimicked with human voice during the performance. Acting the song out during performance was an expectation. Each team had fifteen minutes to prepare and three minutes to deliver. Teams were to be ranked on performance. More points for better creativity. All four teams delivered well.



There were many interesting observations from this exercise. The time pressure on design and practice before delivery showed up. The pressure of competitive forces existed. There was considerable chaos in the beginning, as many leaders emerged at once in each team and were very vocal. Some of them went directly to details of execution of their theme. Some of them focused on perfection of one idea. Simplifying the problem to get everyone in rapid alignment was a big need. A larger vision of the deliverable had to emerge quickly to support the common understanding. A quick skill inventory was taken. Rapid decision making was in order. Work breakdown and task assignment had to be done. Quick mentoring (how to mimick instruments) happened. A quick rehearsal was in order. That caused problems on the fly. Competition lurking in the neighborhood blatantly copied ideas. Intellectual property protection became a rising concern. Surprising the competition became a leadership theme which demanded more creativity. Creativity on the fly was strongly encouraged. A lot of mistakes were forgiven. Some of them got hidden behind overpowering strengths. Actions came from the heart and not from the brain. Since it was all for fun, there was less fear of failure. Even for those who hesitated a bit to start with, the enthusiasm was contagious.


All through the exercise, the collective attention of the team was implicitly focused on getting to a common understanding of the outcome before getting to details. It was interesting to watch the team politely and assertively ignore anybody who was jumping the gun and attempting to break the process that the team wanted.


If we had rewound the clock and did the whole exercise from the beginning following a very structured process by executing the whole thing from the brain, I am pretty sure the outcome would have been several shades inferior. Correctly identifying the value zone and nurturing it brings results from the heart. Those results are several shades better than the ones that are produced by brains. Lead with your heart, not from your brain.


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