lion-pride-in-mara
Pride of lion going one after the other in the plain at the Masa-Mara-Reservation, Kenia

In company of 100 people, one person who underperforms is unlikely to have a huge impact on the team. In a startup team of 4 people, one who underperforms will have a huge impact on the team. Team dynamics in startups is a matter of success or failure.

High performance teams are rare. There are a number of reasons why this is so. Firstly many people do not have a good in-depth knowledge of the basic principles that separate super amazing teams and dysfunctional teams. As a result entrepreneurs grasp at ‘quick fixes’ when often the team is only ‘fixable’ over a period of time.

Building a strong team entail bringing people who bring strong skills sets and then manage the dynamics over time.

Having watched The Last Lions and been on a several game drives I have noticed how powerful each individual lion within the pride is. This power is only partly due to the fact that they belong to a strong pride, most of it is because they are superb hunters in their own right. A big lioness can weigh in at 145 kg and will run the hundred metres in five or six seconds. These are strong individuals who can stand up for themselves. They know what they are superb at and their abilities match their goals.

If our goal is to catch buffaloes we must be certain that the individuals in the pride are buffalo hunters with the abilities to match.

Some lionesses that consistently hunt buffalo even undergo physical changes; they develop stronger chest muscles in order to wrestle the buffalo to the ground. Not to mention the mental changes that must take place in order to go after extremely dangerous prey.

Many startup teams are under prepared, both technically and mentally.

When they attack big buffaloes or elephants, lions go as a pack, they recognise that they will not succeed in a big task alone. When one lion attacks the top body, the other goes for the leg, the other on the bottom part of the body, the idea is to wear down the animal.

Every member of the pride know that is expected of them, there is no time to be shouting instructions during the hunt.

When confronting issues and challenges, teams are either defensive or offensive.

An offensive team wants to get ahead. Grow market share. Get promoted. Its a team that wants to bring in new ideas, help more customers, teach the people around them. Change is an opportunity to further the agenda, change is a chance to reshuffle the deck.

The team that is playing defense, though, wants to be sure not to disappoint the boss. Not to drop a ball, break what’s working or be on the spot for something that did n0t happen.

I am usually on Team Offense but have great respect for those on Defense.

 

 

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