A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
I’ll buy that idea. Over the years I’ve found to also apply to ropes, shoe laces, and rubber bands. Yeah, I know they don’t have links, but they do have bad sections.
But what about teamwork? Can you apply it to your coworkers?
My experience suggests that you cannot. The problem is that the so-called weak link isn’t easily identified.
Sure, you might quickly point to one person, but would that person or others on the team agree? Also, what criteria do you use to judge a person’s strength? I’m sure you have an opinion or two, but again, others may not agree with you.
Take a look at these potential weak links and tell me which deserve the label:
People who do the least because they don’t do their fair share
People who do the most because they cover for the slackers
People who are cranky because they bring everyone down
People who are sunny because they aren’t realistic
People who are loud and opinionated because they make everyone uncomfortable
People who are quiet and timid because they don’t contribute their insights
People who have the least knowledge because they don’t catch on quickly enough
People who have the most knowledge because they don’t examine basic assumptions
Then there are those folks who fall in the middle on everything. Nice and safe, but we can’t remember their names. Maybe they’re the weak links.
To identify the weakest link, there are usually at least two perspectives. The problem is that we think our styles and preferences to be the best and those not like us to be problematic.
If problems on the team surface, avoid the path of least resistance which is to assign blame to the people who aren’t doing things as you would. Instead, consider everyone’s contribution (including your own) to the problem and build your solution based on that understanding.
Capitalize on the differences
Better yet, examine those differences and figure out how to capitalize on them to create a stronger team. Diversity is strength, but only if you appreciate it and find creative ways to use it.