Crediting the Team vs. the Individual
Min Kay, Devon Proudfoot, and Rick Larrick have written a new article titled, “There’s No Team in I: How Observers Perceive Individual Creativity in a Team Setting.” The authors focus on the extent to which we attribute the quality of creative output to an individual vs. the team as a whole. In a discussion about the research, Larrick explains, ““Any time that you have so much of a company’s success tied up in the perceived success of a single individual, there’s a risk.”
In explaining the experimental research findings from the research he conducted with his colleagues, Larrick states, ““It’s striking how little people adjust for the role of a team unless they’re hit over the head with the image of a team.” Indeed, in their studies, these scholars found that showing people an photographic image of all team members actually enhanced the extent to which they attributed the creative success to the group vs. an individual. However, if people are simply told about the presence of a team, but not shown the visual image, they are more likely to give an individual a great deal of the credit for the creative output.
Larrick concludes, “If you want people to have faith in a team that can sustain success over time even with potential turnover, that’s when you want to call attention to it being a team output that is more about process and culture than one person.” I would add that the best leaders insure that others know about the importance and the contribution of the entire team. Moreover, they don’t attribute to much of a project’s success to their own actions, but instead recognize the valuable contributions of those working with them.