I am reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. I’m a firm believer that it’s the little things that can make a big difference, especially when it comes to change and new directions. I also see that it’s easy to forget the significance of these little things until it’s too late; much like a journey of a thousand miles beginning with a single step, great things can be achieved as the result of little things. As much as any other factor, the importance of people and their actions can be crucial in achieving change, as well as a positive and effective working environment..
The law of the few
In chapter 2, Gladwell talks about The law of the few and three personality types which can affect change or start ‘word of mouth epidemics’, as he calls them.
- Connectors: A connector is someone who brings people together. They know lots of people but, most importantly, they genuinely like people. They see possibilities in everyone they connect with. I can think of three friends who are connectors. They can assemble a crowd at a moment’s notice but are not necessarily the centre of their social groups. What makes my connector friends even more special is that they don’t realise how significant their ability to bring pepole together is nor how responsible they have been for widening so many social circles around them.
- Mavens: I think I’m a maven. Think about teachers, bloggers, writers, helpers … mavens like to collect and share information with others not for what they get out of it but in the hope that someone else will gain something from it. They are not persuasive but get a kick out of sharing information in order to educate or help others make the best decision for themselves. Mavens are perpetual teachers and students.
- Salesmen: We all have our own ideas about salesmen. They are persuaders, or people who set out to convince others to make a decision or buy something. I’m definitely not one of these. The best salespeople are optimistic rather than pushy and work to combine the skills of connectors and mavens in order to achieve success – quite an art.
The workplace environment
Turning the lens to the workplace environment now, where do these personality types come into play? I’d say that a good educator needs to be all three. However, how likely is it that an individual will excel in each of these areas? Probably, not very. This is where a positive team environment comes into play. The best functioning teams recognise and harness the skills of their members and their combined strengths complement each other. A good team leader is one who enables this to happen and empowers team members to realise their full potential, both individually and as a group. That, in itself, is an art, particularly where change management is concerned.
Thinking about my work experience, I have worked with some very adept connectors whose ability to open doors and connect the right people to the right job at the right time is invaluable. I have learned much from enthusiastic mavens who have willing shared their knowledge about various topics and equipped me with the skills and information I’ve needed to make my own decisions about how to proceed next. And let’s also say that I have worked with a fair few salesmen in the past; the results have varied from being promised the earth to being promised nothing at all, but all sold with a million dollar smile. 😀