Teamwork is the True Power: Leadership, Synergy, & Ants

The connection between teamwork, leadership and core values is a funny thing. If you’re looking for a branding agency in Los Angeles, your mind might not be on questions of leadership, teamwork, and core values, but we at Twelve12 are under the impression that there’s a powerful connection. It comes down to the link between individuals—the power of synergy.

Synergy has a math all its own. Let’s say one worker is able to lift one box per minute. If we scale this, two workers can, therefore lift two boxes per minute, three workers lift three boxes per minute, and so on. This is the 1+1=2 paradigm, and a lot of the world functions like that. Synergy, however, is different. Synergy has a self-propulsive logic that grows the power and resources at hand. The heart of synergistic teamwork is the belief that two people, working together, can lift far more than two boxes.

There were several striking images of synergy coming out the catastrophic flooding this week in and around Houston, Texas. The human stories are incredible, like volunteer boatmen in the “Cajun Navy”—but to see the definition of teamwork and synergy, look to the area’s fire ants. Perfectly adapted to flooding, fire ants will automatically build a raft from their own bodies, with the sole objective of preserving the egg-laying queen and the colony’s precious larvae.

Is there a business lesson here?

It’s humbling to compare your team’s cooperation with the collective perfection of fire ants; still, the same principle that makes the ants a success is at work in successful business teams, and their leaders. One relatively recent success story is found in the crisis management of Ford CEO Alan Mullaly. When he took the helm, Ford shares were trading at around $1.00, and the “B” word (bankruptcy) was on everyone’s lips. One of the reasons Ford was able to turn this crisis into an epic comeback was the emphasis on the team. Mullaly created a mantra, “One Ford,” which worked to unify a huge company that was dissolving in the midst of a crisis. By pressing this vision as the company reshuffled, the whole organization worked as if in true agreement, latching on to each other like fire ants, waiting for the rain to stop. And stop the rain did, allowing Ford to rebuild, and grow.

The success of the “One Ford” mantra can be attributed to the strength of the team, but at the same time, it was a unified vision, which came directly from leadership. In crisis especially, business continuity is dependent upon the company’s leadership and core values — it’s equivalent to the DNA of the ant colony: that instinct that lets them know to just grasp together and float to safety. As a business, it’s the effort you put into nurturing, passing on, and enforcing these core values when the company is doing fine that allows the business to come through when it starts to rain.

It’s the logic of synergy at work. Great leadership, combined with solid company values, allows teams to add up to more than they are. One plus one doesn’t just equal two— guided teamwork makes 1+1 = 11.

At Twelve12, we make it our goal to dig a little deeper and the average branding agency in Los Angeles. And it’s our experience that doing so leads to lasting results, stronger brands, better leadership, and incredibly powerful teamwork.


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