Competency vs. Amiability

This goes back a bit to an article about management theory and the Cambridge and Oxford boat race that I first saw in The Economist in Mar 2007.

In summary Mark de Rond, a Cambridge management academic at the Judge Business School, noted that for rowers to make it on to a boat the first have to prove their individual strength against their clubmates. But for a boat to win rowers must synchronise their efforts with people they were competing against.

Rowers will sometimes get in to a ‘rhythm fight’ where each is trying to impose their rhythm on the boat – perhaps sometimes unconsciously. There are various fixes to this from an observant coach telling individuals to slow down or speed up to self-coaching where individuals awareness is raised and they self-correct.

Rowing coaches have noticed that to achieve the best 8 from say a selection of 30 or so can cause some interesting choices and instructions. For example stronger rowers may be asked to row more ‘anonymously’ and likeable and flamboyant weaker rowers can help to speed up the whole team.

The article also quotes a Harvard Business Review piece that reports that workmates prize amiability over ability preferring the ‘loveable fool’ to the ‘competent jerk’.

Interesting stuff and a real example of the importance of Emotional Intelligence combined with competency for truly high performance. Doesn’t matter how good you are if you don’t ‘fit in’ and it’s at the expense of others…

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