Great Team Leaders: Chess or Draughts players?

According to Marcus Buckingham in his book The one thing you need to know mediocre leaders think of each of their team members as draughts pieces (interchangeable) but good leaders think of them as chess pieces (unique)...

Everyone is Unique

Mediocre leaders play draughts with their workers - they assume we all move in the same way and are motivated by the same things.

Good leaders play chess - they learn whats unique about each person and the best way to energise us.

To buy The one thing you need to know

About Ken Thompson

Ken Thompson is an expert practitioner in the area of bioteaming, swarming, virtual enterprise networks, virtual professional communities and virtual teams and has published two landmark books:

Bioteams: High Performance Teams Based on Nature's Best Designs

The Networked Enterprise: Competing for the future through Virtual Enterprise Networks

Ken writes the highly popular bioteams blog which has over 500 articles on all aspects of bioteams (aka organizational biomimicry) - in other words how human groups can learn from nature's best teams.

Ken is also founder of an exciting European technology company Swarmteams which provides unique patent-pending bioteaming technologies for all shapes and sizes of groups, social networks, business clusters, virtual/mobile communities and enterprises. Swarmteams enables groups to be more responsive and agile by fully integrating their mobile phones and the web with bioteam working techniques.

The latest Swarmteams implementation is SwarmTribes which helps social object owners (e.g. musicians/bands, sports teams, film-makers) and good cause sponsors (e.g. Volunteering, Environmental, Public Health) to form unique collaborations with their fans/supporters for mutual benefit.


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I disagree with Marcus on this point.

I think all would-be leaders and all humans
experience and treat each person differently,
for good and for bad.

It is an innate part of our psyche.

To consciously see how each employee
or team member is different,
enable them to use their best talents more often
for the greater good of the group and/or the group's top goal
is indeed a sign of a gifted, facilitative leader.

Better yet, for anyone to have a main goal,
find the key players who could collectively make it happen,
speak to the sweet spot of mutual benefit with each one in recruiting them,
then to them all when all are present,
then ask all participants to hone that goal,
agree on roles
and on rules of engagement
--- that's the best path to success in this age of engagement.

As we are willing to be opportunity-makers
for and with other, we will become
more aware participants in flatter orgs -
more project-oriented with extremely different people
as leads on different projects -
working well together (swarming as Ken would say)
because we can keep an eye on
a mutually beneficial goal
and see our role in making it happen

That was a key part of the Obama campaign at a paid staff and a volunteer level..

Many Thanks Kare for a very thoughful and well considered post, KEN


Bioteams Books Reviews

The 5 personal change barriers instant test

The 5 personal change barriers instant test

How to identify someones main worry about a coming change. I found this technique in a book a long time ago – "The Secret Language of Success: Using Body Language to Get What You Want" by Dr. David Lewis (1989). I confess I never got round to testing it properly but it sounded intriguing so I pass it on - "buyer beware".

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