What Aristotle and Plato have to say about Team Development? -Part 1

Dedicated to the SAPHIR team, my friends and colleagues at CMA CGM for highlighting what dedication, perseverance and passion can achieve, and for a reflective, joyful and productive three weeks spent with them at Head Office working towards the SAP implementation project as well as, a variety of other small side projects.

The below post was on my mind for a while but believe it “put itself together” following this great experience.

This post focuses on two basic principles that assist us to conceptualize Team Engagement (analyzed before here, here and here) starting from an interpretation of Ancient Philosophy that seems more contemporary than ever.

Read on if you also want to get some tips on how to go about to achieve this within your teams.

Plato and Aristotle

INTRODUCTION

So, what can Ancient Greek Philosophy can contribute to a discussion on better Team engagement?

What would Aristotle and Plato say about the management of modern teams?

Surprisingly, the advice that these thinkers may have suggested is very close to what our current thinking about team and individual development is.

The core of it could be crystallized in two terms: methexis (μέθεξις) and endelexeia (ενδελέχεια).

Let’s see on why it is important to consider those terms which enable us to better strategise towards getting optimal results from our teams.

 

Endelexeia

Endelexeia means to “have an end in itself / to have completeness”. In other words, to become who you really are.

Endelexeia is a concept that suggests that we need to know our team members’ behavioural style, i.e. weaknesses, strengths, dreams.

Only then, we can find the best ways to engage them i.e. position them in the right roles, support them and guide them towards meaningful work that will eventually promote and expand their ability to achieve optimum results for themselves and for the team i.e. work that will increase their Self-Esteem and enable them to even attain Self-Actualisation (as per the model by Abraham Maslow).

Nowadays, it is true that Work and Life have become intertwined. Technology has vastly contributed to the blurring of the dividing line between the two.

As we are creatures that seek meaning in all facets of Life, Work provides a great opportunity for this should we want to pursue it.

Moreover, we are getting closer and closer to Peter Drucker’s inspirational view that organizations are the means through which individuals can contribute towards the embetterment of society. Specifically, from his book The Effective Executive the below quotes are representative:

“The cohesion and strength of our society depend increasingly on the integration of the psychological and social needs of the knowledge worker with the goals of organization and of industrial society.

Effectiveness reveals itself as crucial to a man’s self-development; to organization development; and to the fulfillment and viability of modern society”

Job positions that satisfy mere processing needs are becoming automated and so, eventually we will be left with positions for which significant value-add will be required from each team member.

This means that creativity, lateral thinking, full engagement and the organizations’ focus on each team member contributing 100% of their capability will shift the attention towards understanding and promoting Endelexeia for each individual.

We already see this in recent literature e.g. the Rosenbluth and McFerrin Peters great book, The Customer Comes Second, supports the notion that should an organization supports and promotes the success of its own employees, then it also ensures that the Customer will be served and looked after.

It is thus important that work transforms itself to become meaningful enough and engaging enough so, each team member can be allowed to achieve optimal results.

Only then, the process of work becomes a win-win situation in which each individual can achieve Endelexeia.

A good start to the journey towards endelexeia is summarized below:

  1. Run a Behavioural Test with each team members and use it as a prompt to start a discussion.
  2. Run a Productive Culture Survey and use it as a prompt to see how you can improve it. 
  3. Start having One-on-One meetings with your team every week or bi-weekly so, you keep in touch with them. Use these meetings as a means to connect, reflect and continuously improve.
  4. Reward successes.
  5. Go through the presentation on 12 tips for successful team engagement (here)

 

In my next blog post I will discuss the second significant term, Methexis and some tips on how to achieve this.

 

Image courtesy of Image Editor / www.flickr.com

 

About George Vrakas
George Vrakas (MBA, CCMP, CMILT) is highly reputed in the fields of Contract and Relationship Management as well as, Services Procurement and Logistics with extensive experience in Contract Management, Procurement and Supply Chain. George is passionate about Contract Management, Procurement, Innovation, Continuous Improvement, Exploring trends that will shape the Future, Team Development and the Modernisation and Automation of processes. George is a member of IACCM. George is the author of www.georgevrakas.com blog and has presented on Globalisation, Procurement and Continuous Improvement at various venues and Universities in Victoria, Australia.

One Response to What Aristotle and Plato have to say about Team Development? -Part 1

  1. Bilal says:

    Interesting insight George, thanks for sharing this with us. The fundamental truth about information age is that all processes are moving towards automation, as you’ve rightly highlighted. Do organisations then risk being caught out if they don’t encourage people to adapt to the information age? Barriers to entry for innovation to thrive have never been lower, which is a testament to the fact that majority of jobs (roles) that will exist in 10 years time haven’t even been thought of today. Interesting article, well done!!