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Motivating Teams – Learning from the Modern Caveman (Part 1)

By Guest Author On February 22, 2011 Under Success Secrets

By Arthur F. Carmazzi

Does a team’s influence affect an individual’s personal capability? The answer is a clear “Yes”, so the actual question is how to make that influence one that improves performance instead of deteriorates it. If you wish to influence the dynamics behind superior team performance, you need to understand the psychology that drives human reaction. The methodology we will be discussing is the Directive Communication Organisational Development Psychology

Survival was the main concern of the caveman at the initial stage. Man found safety in groups and the beginings of group dynam. It was not a matter of preference, it was a matter of necessity. If you were not a part of a group, your surviving probabilities were nominal. Compliance to the majority became requirement to stay in a group and physical strength was the dominant factor for group leadership. Those who were strong and successful in the art of survival had the majority influence toward that conformity and only the strong challenged these leaders. If you challenged the leadership, you needed to be prepared to fight. And, if you suffered defeat, you were forced to leave the safety of the group and fend for yourself. There were few challengers as the risk was high and it became an ingrained survival response to achieve acceptance from the group, so people just kept quiet. It was a time of conformity!

Then came the significance revolution. The caveman’s brains got bigger and more developed. Individuals became torn between finding there own path and gaining there own recognition, verses conforming to the group. Physical strength was no longer the dominant factor for influence. Now, people could think! Survival was no longer the acquisition of food and shelter; it had become a fight of ability. The more intelligent you were (and able to apply it), the more valuable you had become. The more influence you could exert over others, the more powerful you became. We began to compete for significance trying to show others how important and able we are, and if they believed us, or in some cases feared us, we became even more significant. We made a civilization that needed to be right!

Then came the industrial revolution and groups evolved into teams but the fundamentals of our survival instinct, our emotional evolution and the emotions that drive us were still there, and a major part of our psychology. Our ability to work at our peak in teams depended on the way these emotional drivers and understanding the dynamics they promote.

In modern times, the caveman has evolved and the awareness of our psychology has expanded. We now look for better ways to improve our selves and our performance, but our caveman nature sometimes gets in the way. While our modern brain is influenced by numerous factors of emotional drive, the three that came from our caveman age are still key to our performance in teams:

a. The drive to belong.

b. The drive for security.

c. The drive to be significant.

As with our caveman ancestors, potential for achievement has less significance to us than our fear of loss. Loosing (or the potential of loosing) our sense of belonging or our sense of security or importance are materialize in caveman like reactions. These reactions are sometimes subtle.

Our caveman reaction for conformity is directed by our need belong and feel secure in the group, so we keep quiet and obey. And if we do challenge, we are probably depriving others of their importance or security, causing them to react to “protect” themselves. This can either escalate to greater conflict, or it may revert back to compliance and conformity to avoid conflict. Either way, these are still caveman reactions and are NOT productive to high performance teams.

The greatest barrier to high performance is the caveman’s reactions to loosing significance, in order for the caveman to be right, it is must for him to prove someone else wrong, and that means, more caveman reactions from the other team members! And the worst part is that reality is not what matters, the caveman reacts on emotion regardless of reality, and so “perception” influences reaction. When someone feels wrong, they feel less able; they may feel like they have less power and therefore are less secure, they react with aggression or submission out of dissatisfaction, and a lesser desire to cooperate which has an impact on their performance and the entire team.

So how do we get the caveman out of our teams so we can stop reacting and act like the evolved humans we have become, able to perform the best we can?

There are 4 stages to our evolution into “awakened” team members:

Stage 1: Acknowledge the primitive caveman in you.

Stage 2: Soothing the significant caveman.

Stage 3: Keeping the caveman away from your team.

Stage 4: Evolving into the awakened team member.

Each stage is a stage of awareness. It awakens our greater perception. But for it to be effective, the entire team has to take this journey. But there are consequences, once team members have awakened, their outlook to the teams will be changed. They can never go back to the way it was and can never be satisfied with mediocrity. Each stage opens our eyes to the caveman within ourselves and others, and it lets us use the sensible part of our brain to send this caveman back when he tries to occupy our minds and body. Different team members may be at different stages in their evolution, where are you?

In the following part we will have more details on the stages of our evolution into awakened team members.

Continued in Part 2


Arthur F. Carmazzi, Founder of the Directive Communication  Organizational Change Methodology and Ranked as one of the Global Top 10 most influential Leadership Gurus by Gurus International. Arthur specializes in psychological approaches to leadership and corporate culture transformation. He is a renowned International Speaker and bestselling author of “The 6 Dimensions of Top Achievers”, “Identity Intelligence and “Lessons from the Monkey King”, “The Psychology of Selecting the RIGHT Employee, and “The Colored Brain Communication Field Manual.

More Leadership Development from Arthur Carmazzi can be found at: www.directivecommunication.com and  www.carmazzi.net

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