Book review: The Hedgehog Effect: The Secrets of Building High Performance Teams

Emma De Vita reviews the new book by Manfred Kets de Vries

Off the shelf
Off the shelf
Manfred Kets de Vries, the author of The Hedgehog Effect: The Secrets of Building High Performance Teams, refers to the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer’s tale about hedgehogs that try to get close to one another for warmth but hurt each other in the process. Eventually, they learn to keep a little distance away so that they warm up but stay unhurt.

The Hedgehog EffectThis can be a metaphor for teams at work. How close should team members get to one another? Being able to create successful teams is a competitive advantage, especially for charities that operate in an environment that requires a high level of collaboration. Why are so many teams dysfunctional? It could be because too few managers realise that emotion plays as much a part in the success of a team as goals and strategies. A new team can feel anxious and exposed.

The way to deal with this is to instil an interactive coaching culture in which participants can have candid, respectful conversations, unrestricted by reporting relationships or fear of retribution. It means you need to project trust, commitment, enthusiasm and enjoyment. It’s a daunting challenge, but one you’d be wrong to ignore.

Emma De Vita is books editor of Management Today

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