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When Managing Team, Pay attention to the Quiet One
Self Excellence » Tales of Wisdom

Chrm Message From: CHRM Total Posts: 209 Join Date:
Rank: Coach Post Date: 12/06/2006 23:46:37 Points: 1045 Location: India

George Harrison's sad death is not only a cultural event. It teaches us something about how people work together.

The Beatles were one of the most successful teams of all time. Their recording career only lasted between 1962-70 but during that period they were the most successful global entertainment phenomenon. 30 years after they broke up they are bigger than ever, and have sold more records in the last five years than in the whole of their previous history. They stand alongside Disney, McDonalds and Nike as one of the great world-wide brands.

One of the reasons for this is that they were, between 1962 and 67, an almost perfect team. Using a well known team typology  you can make informed guesses about the roles they took up.

John Lennon was a "plant": A wildly gifted ideas man who mixed long bouts of doing nothing with galvanic action. Paul McCartney was a conscientious "complete-finisher", taking ideas and making them real. Ringo Starr was a "team player", who glued the team together socially. And Harrison was a "monitor/evaluator" who contributed a huge amount technically to the groups' sound and went outside their environment to find new sounds and ideas.

But the group also comprised two other core members. George Martin, their producer, was a perfect "chairman": respected and respectful; able to sort out disagreements and make decisions. Brian Epstein their original manager was a "shaper"; packaging their raw talent into something saleable.

After 1967 the team began to fall apart. Epstein died, Martin lost influence and Lennon withdrew increasingly into his private world. McCartney began to take on a number of roles he wasn't used to, including chairman, and was ultimately blamed for the groups break up.

We can learn a number of things from this, not least that good team are fragile and the gap between effectiveness and ineffectivesness is very small. But there are two other lessons thrown into relief by George Harrison in particular.

First, the less glamorous roles in a team are very important. Lennon and McCartney have always been the most visible ex-Beatles, but it's becoming clearer and clearer how much the others contributed to the groups' success. Harrison, in particular, was as much the creator of the great mid 60s music - from Rubber Soul onwards - as any of the others.
Second, that you ignore the less viable team leaders at your peril. Although they returned, the first people who left the Beatles were Ringo Starr and George Harrison, both of whom grew tired at the lack of recognition and the egos of the other two. You need to make a conscious effort to recognise everyone's contributions to a team, not just focussing on the extroverts, leaders and creatives.

George Harrison's contribution and achievements are being given their due credit. His first solo album, All Things Must Pass, is increasingly held up to be the greatest work created by an individual Beatle. And most of the songs were written while he was in the group and were turned down by the other members - a bit like a company turning down good ideas from unexpected sources.

So, when you're managing a team, pay attention to the quiet ones. You might just find that you have a George Harrison on your hands.

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