Sunday, September 07, 2014

Teamwork and leadership

Mary was out of town this weekend, up in New York with her grad school home girls celebrating an opening for one of them and Mary's (dare I say it) 50th birthday. And maybe Tanya's too.

So this morning it fell to me to make the pancakes, as we do every Sunday, pretty much.  I had thought ahead and taken some pumpkin out of the freezer, because we all love pumpkin pancakes, and fall is after all on its way.  I looked in the cookbook Mary uses for making the pancakes, opened it to the recipe she uses, and proceeded from there, following the recipe as best I could.

Unfortunately, they didn't come out as good as they are when she makes them.  They were too dense, perhaps because we had only one egg, perhaps because I used more whole wheat flour than Mary actually does (despite what was written on the page).  Or maybe I left out some ingredient like baking powder because I am such a space cadet.  Anyway, they were perfectly fine with some maple syrup on them.

A little later, Graham and I were sitting on the couch talking about DC superheros and the villains they struggle with and on good days vanquish.  We were talking about favorites, and Graham focused a little bit on the villain Brainiac, who is said to be smarter than all of the denizens of earth put together.

I noted that, in fact, just adding up the intelligence does not adequately reflect the capacities of different types of people working together, and we see that in the comic books, where time after time, a foe who seems insurmountable at the outset is brought low at the end by the concerted efforts of some super teammates.

But I also made the point that the concept of intelligence is inherently not additive, that you can in no way just add up the IQs or any other quantitative measure of how smart folx are and have that in any way reflect their capacity to work together.

For example, I noted, why did my pancakes kinda suck?  I was following mom's recipe.  We've been married over 17 years. It's a simple task we do all the time. Mary had written down slight modifications to the recipe based on our own experience.  And yet they were too chewy and dense.

The transmission of knowledge and talents between teammates is inherently tough, but good leaders figure out how to make it happen.  Bad leaders don't.

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