Collaboration is an important part of innovation. The days of the lone genius are gone (if they ever really existed at all) – now, it takes a network to innovate.
But how much collaboration do we need?
In his new book To Sell is Human, Dan Pink talks about some interesting findings in the research of Adam Grant. Grant looks at sales results relative to a person’s level of extraversion. Everyone knows that extraverts make the best salespeople, right? Well, wrong, actually. Check this out:
As you can see from the chart, the folks who fared the best — by a wide margin — were the in the modulated middle. They’re called “ambiverts,” a term that has been in the literature since the 1920s. They’re not overly extraverted. They’re not overly introverted. They’re a little of both.
The key question is why does it turn back down? This upside-down U shape is actually a very common research finding. You frequently see it in systems that require attention. Usually, it means that if you have too many team members involved, you can’t pay enough attention to each, and your results start to get worse.
This is interesting for a three reasons.
- We often search for black and white answers – but life rarely offers them.
- Is collaboration good? Yes, but only up to a point.
- Is extraversion good if you’re a salesperson (and all leaders are “selling” something)? Yes, but only up to a point.
Figuring out where that point lies is part of the art of managing. And being comfortable with the ambiguity in this is an even bigger part being a leader.
So just remember: more is better, but only until it’s not.
Read more from Tim here.