If even trees work together, what’s stopping us ?

Trees, bees, geese … they are social beings

Did you know that trees actively work together ? The German forest ranger, Peter Wohlleben and the American scientist Suzanne Simard, certainly believe they do. During decades they observed trees while performing ongoing research on how trees ‘communicate’.

According to their findings, a wood is not just a wood but a living organism.
Roots of trees get in touch with each other with innumerable mouldy underground threads. These threads create a web that connects the trees and that allows them to share water and nutriments.  The tallest and deepest rooted trees ensure that a struggling neighbour gets more nutriments. When danger looms, trees warn each other with signals, so that they can brace themselves for what’s coming.  In other words, trees are social beings.

That brings them in the category of ants, bees, geese, horses, dogs and the social beings who developed ingenious ways to communicate with each other.

But no being is more social than the human being. 

Of all animals in the animal kingdom, humans are the most social. We basically had no other choice in order to survive as a species. That’s why we still experience a deep need to belong to a group. It is where we feel safe and where we flourish.  Our true human nature emerges : we experience empathy and connection and we like to use our talents to the benefit of the group.

Many companies prevent cooperation as much as possible

Worse, it almost seems that companies do their utmost to actively oppose team work.

Team members get individual targets and are evaluated and rewarded on the basis of individual achievements. A corporate organigram indicates precisely on which step of the hierarchical ladder each individual finds him/herself.

Naturally, employees are encouraged to keep climbing that ladder until they join a tiny select club that gives access to a myriad of  desirable perks : special inside information, a glamorous company car, the corner office by the window, a management assistant and all-paid access to classy restaurants.  An other option is for the employee to get selected to join a ‘high potential’ club which enables him/her to follow trainings for the happy few.  This group highlights that he/she is “different” from those who don’t belong there.

CEO’s get portrayed as if they are the lone heroes when making difficult strategic decisions. Instead of encouraging cooperation and shared engagement, the emphasis is on the differences that drive employees apart

That’s why it doesn’t come as a surprise when one of the most frequently asked questions we get from our customers is : “How can we improve teamwork ?”
The magic that  happens outside of the office, turns out to be hard work inside the office building. Our answer to this question is surprisingly simple : “By paying attention to teamwork”.

We notice that team leaders often have time for hard team-results and that they focus on efficiency, productivity and cutting costs. However, the way that people work together as a team is an aspect they regularly neglect to consider.

Do you  know how your team works together ?

Do you want to really pay attention to the collaboration within your team ? Start by asking yourself these six questions :

  • Why are you a team ? Do you make a difference for your customers thanks to the way you work together ?
  • Which culture dominates your team ? Do you behave like ‘cowboys’, ‘experts', ‘friends’ or ‘pioneers’ ?
  • Who sets the tone in your team ? Who are those who pull and who follows ? Do you have (quiet) rebels : those who (quietly) oppose and who influence the vibe, sometimes without speaking up ?
  • How does the team integrate newcomers ? What do they need to do to ‘fit in’?
  • Do you know the unspoken rules of the team?  Do team members give each other (direct) feedback or do they protect themselves and each other ?  What is deemed joke-material and what ‘off limits’ ?
  • How do you position yourself in the team ? Do team members automatically turn to you when problems arise ? Do you spontaneously take the brunt when your team gets criticism ?  Do you place yourself in the background when your team receives compliments ?
  • Do not look at the branches, look at the tree. 

    In a strong team, it are not the individual team members who bring success. It is the correlation between behaviour, feelings, thoughts and experiences.

    Each team member gets to shine thanks to the connection with the other team members. 

    The best team leaders are those who manage to motivate all their team members in such a way that they use all their natural talents to work together towards shared team success. These are the managers who realise that fruit is born by the entire tree, not just by each separate branch.

    Free download :  

    Discover your own team culture

    Each team has its own unique team culture. It is a determining factor when it comes to team relations, team focus, and the way members wish to reach their goals.  You don’t need to read up on the ‘written rules’ to recognise team culture.

    Are you curious to learn if you are a team of ‘cowboys,‘ experts, friends’ or ‘pioneers’ ?  Click on this  link and discover the hallmarks of your own team culture.


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.