June 19, 2020

By Dan Hammond, Chief Disruption Officer, LIW

An experiment by Max Ringelmann, a French engineer, in the 1880s showed that as you add people to a rope in a tug-of-war simulation, individual effort drops by 25%. Later called ‘social loafing’, it’s the risk that working in groups makes us less diligent.

Organisations often deal with this through individual incentives but, as Matthew Syed reports, a Stanford study shows this to be ineffective. Teams that built a commitment culture – “a family-like feeling and an intense emotional bond” – performed best.

What does this mean for leadership?

Football coach Vince Lombardi said “The challenge of every team is to build a feeling of oneness, of dependence on one another. Because the question is usually not how well each person performs, but how well they work together.”

Focus on building connection. Then people will pull together – hard.

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