One of my favourite TED talks is Margaret Heffernan's ‘Forget the pecking order at work'. In it, she shares the tale of biologist William Muir, who studied chickens to see how to make them more productive — that is, to lay more eggs.
He had two groups (or broods in this case), with the second brood comprising the ‘super-chickens' — those from each of his previous observation groups that had produced the most eggs. By the end of six generations, what he found surprised him. The first group of average chickens were coming along fine — plump and healthy, and egg production was good. In the second group, though, all but three were dead as the survivors had pecked the rest to death!
Margaret's point is that most organisations have been run according to the super-chicken model. (Perhaps literal fatalities have been avoided, though some of us might at times feel like we've been pecked to death.) She explains, ‘We've thought that success is achieved by picking the superstars, the brightest men, or occasionally women, in the room, and giving them all the resources and all the power. And the result has been just the same as in William Muir's experiment: aggression, dysfunction and waste.'
As the leader you play a crucial role in creating either a team of dysfunctional super-chickens or a team where every person brings their best self to work every day.
It starts with you building your leadership habits, so you are your best self at work.
Build good habits