Have you ever attended meetings full of professional peacocks? I have. I’m sure you’ve attended a few of those meetings, as well.
One of the first peacock meetings I attended was when I was a corporate newbie in the pharmaceutical industry. We were assigned to a new product development team and supposed to come up with an entire portfolio of blockbuster products. I walked into the meeting, grabbed some coffee and sat down. Eventually the meeting started.
First order of business: introduce ourselves to each other. And that’s when it happened!!
One by one, as we went around the table introducing ourselves, we turned into professional peacocks!
Everyone told everyone else how great they were! They went on and on about their accomplishments, certifications, post-graduate degrees and publications in professional journals.
Then it was the next person’s turn, and their professional peacock story became even more fantastic that the person who spoke before them. These introductions got to be a competition, a form of professional one-upsmanship and Us versus Them mindset.
Until we stopped, looked at each other, and started to laugh. At ourselves!
We discussed how our professional peacock behavior was, pretty much, status quo behavior in the organization (a legacy company, I might add). Then, we dissected how this type of condoned professional behavior negatively impacted how people worked on teams.
Instead of reinforcing the team, professional peacocks created barriers to collaboration and innovation.
Honestly, when meetings start with everyone spreading their peacock tails and strutting their “I’m better than you are” stuff, who wants to collaborate with anyone else? And since our team was in charge of innovation, well, we realized we had to do something about this negative scenario.
So, everyone promptly folded up their peacock tails and parked their egos outside the door. Instead, we created a team charter focused on mutually sharing leadership, depending on the problem to be solved.
While collaborating on new products for an organization who hadn’t had a new ones in years wasn’t exactly easy, it was fulfilling. And the products we created, together, collaboratively, are still extremely profitable for the organization.
All because we decided that being a bunch of professional peacocks creates barriers to collaboration. Not only that. It brings out the worst in people and emphasizes all the wrong stuff. When it boils down to it, we all are a bunch of talented people who are relentlessly curious, innovative and, yes, wicked smart. And in a legacy system, that can be a recipe for collaboration disaster.
Our choice was to go against the status quo. Instead, we ended up rocking more than a few boats, coming up with tremendous new concepts and commercializing a few, as well. More than that, we formed close professional bonds that remain to this day.
Next steps towards professional innovation:
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Babette Ten Haken serves organizations as a corporate catalyst and innovative speaker, strategist, coach and storyteller. Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ Workshops and Speaking programs leverage collaboration to catalyze professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention, especially in challenging Industrial Internet of Things environments. Babette’s playbook of IIoT team collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. She is a member of SME, ASQ, SHRM and the National Speakers Association.
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