Chemistry of Teamwork – III Towards Collective Resonance

In the integral perspective the highest ideal is to create a resonant and harmonious whole which is more than the sum of its parts. This article examines briefly the main factors which can lead to such a resonant human group providing a brief summary and synthesis of the ideas discussed in the previous articles.

The first factor is the Unity of Purpose in the form of some shared vision, values, principles or goals. Without this uniting factor the collective energies of people cannot be focused on a point. However for achieving enduring unity or effectiveness the common or shared principle must evoke the moral or spiritual instinct in people which leads to self-dedication of the individual to a greater something which transcends the individual ego and its self-interest. This is the second factor, which is variously called as selflessness or self-sacrifice. Without this self-transcending factor, the team or group remains fragmented.

The third factor is mutual Trust. Much has been said and written about this factor of trust in management literature. But the practical question is what are the factors which can build this trust or in other words what are the factors which have to be built-in or encouraged in the group-culture which can lead to this trust? The first factor is integrity, which includes qualities like honesty, openness, transparency, and candour. The second factor is competence. We cannot give an assignment to someone who doesn’t have the competence to accomplish it. An important part of competence is professional integrity, which means the ability to deliver to the internal or external customer according to mutually agreed upon specifications. The third factor, which can build enduring trust, is empathy or goodwill, which means a sincere consideration for, or understanding of the needs, problems and difficulties of others, combined with a genuine concern for others’ well-being. We must note here that trust or empathy cannot be faked. It is an inner condition and if it is sincere, silently communicates itself to the other person.

The fourth factor is Equality. There must be a genuine respect in thought and feeling for the human essence and dignity of every individual irrespective of his functional or social status in the organization. This inner sense of equality must translate itself in the outer life in terms of appropriate outer action, behaviour, policies, reward-system and organizational details or practices like for example a flexible, non-hierarchical and open organizational structure, sharing of information, profits or incentives. Building equality requires more “walking” than “talking.” Leaders must demonstrate equity by their personal example, like for example, Lance Armstrong, leader of the American cycling team, carrying the water bottles for his teammates.

The fifth factor is individual empowerment, which means freedom and opportunity for the individual to initiate, grow and express himself. If the team has to remain creative and innovative, individual freedom, uniqueness and potentialities should not get submerged in “group-think” or in the social or cultural matrix. The individual must be given sufficient freedom and opportunities to grow towards his highest potential and enrich the team by expressing his capacities in his individual and collective work-life. Multiple viewpoints, expressive of individual uniqueness should be given full freedom of expression and must be encouraged to arrive at a creative synthesis.

This brings us to another related factor, which we may call as complementing links. It is now recognized that complementing skills is an important feature of effective team-work. But for a greater effectiveness, a team should have not only complementing skills but also complementing temperaments. An ideal team should contain individual types, which represent the conceptual, emotional, volitional, pragmatic, ethical, aesthetic and intuitive faculties of human consciousness.

The ancient Indian classification of human beings may perhaps provide a more practical framework. According to this Indian view human being can be broadly classified into four types: Mentor, Marshal, Merchant and Worker. Mentor-type is the one who lives predominantly in his conceptual, ethical, aesthetic and intuitive intelligence with its urge for knowledge, values, ideals and vision. Marshal is the type which lives in the consciousness of his will and vital force with its urge for power, leadership, mastery, conquest, expansion. The Merchant is the one who lives in his emotional and pragmatic faculties with its urge for mutuality, harmony, adaptation, relationship and organization. And finally, Worker is the type who lives in the consciousness of his physical faculties of action and execution. In a psychological perspective an effective team should have a balanced mix of all these four temperaments, which complement each other.

And finally the last factor is the Unity of Consciousness. Most of the modern strategies on teamwork and other social and organizational strategies aim at arriving some form of unity of the outer life. But for a stable and sustainable outer unity, it must be based on an inner unity of consciousness felt concretely in the deeper levels of the mind and heart of people, which is not dependent on outer factors of unity like common goal or shared values. This deeper unity is the foundation of true love beyond the transient and fickle vagaries of human emotions and sentiments and its likes and dislikes. When someone mentioned to Sri Aurobindo that love must be the basis of an ideal community, Sri Aurobindo said with a touch of humour:

“Love is not enough. Something more than love is needed. Unity of consciousness is more important than love… Love also leads to quarrel. Nobody quarrels more than lovers. You know the Latin proverb that each quarrel is a renewal of love. Love is a fine flower but unity of consciousness is the root.” (1)

This inner unity can be achieved only by a psychological discipline, which has tow aspects. The positive side of the discipline is to consciously cultivate in our thought, feelings speech and action all that unites like kindness, charity, generosity, humility, harmony, trust understanding non-judgemental attitude, forgiveness. The negative side is to reject all that divides people and create conflict and friction like jealousy, suspicion, animosity, intolerance, vengefulness, pride, arrogance, sarcasm, sense of superiority, self-righteousness, and harsh judgements. This inner discipline of purification has to be pursued along with a process of internalization of consciousness, which means learning to enter into the depth of our consciousness where unity exists as a concrete fact, experience and realization.


The author is a student and practitioner in the path of integral yoga.

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