The Hedgehog Effect: Building High Performance Teams

September 20, 2012 • LEADERSHIP, MBAs & Executive Education, STRATEGY & MANAGEMENT, Team Managment

By Manfred Kets de Vries

You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself. Galileo Galilee

The organizations we admire, and the places where most people would like to work, are known for having a special environment or corporate culture in which people feel, and perform, at their best. I have called these types of organizations, authentizotic. This term is derived from two Greek words: authenteekos and zoteekos. As a workplace label, authenticity implies that the organization has a compelling connective quality for its employees in its vision, mission, culture, and structure. The term zoteekos means “vital to life.” In the organizational context, it describes the way in which people are invigorated by their work. The zoteekos element of this type of organization allows for self-assertion in the workplace and produces a sense of effectiveness and competency, of autonomy, initiative, creativity, entrepreneurship, and industry.

These authentizotic organizations have meta-values that give organizational participants a sense of purpose and self-determination. In addition, people feel competent, experience a sense of belonging, have voice and impact on the organization, and they derive meaning and enjoyment from their work. Organizations with authentizotic cultures are not only benchmarks for health and psychological well being in the workplace, but they are very often profitable, sustainable enterprises as well.

What makes these types of organizations such great places to work is that its employees recognize the advantage of having well-functioning teams. Competitive advantage now lies with organizations that bring together their specialists in research, manufacturing, logistics, talent management, marketing, customer service, and sales with speed and efficiency to get their products and services to market. Organizations in social services, education, health care, and government also operate in complex environments that face similar issues and require a high degree of collaborative action. Across a wide range of organizations, teamwork can provide the competitive edge that translates opportunities into successes.

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