I have watched a couple of families recently. These families seemed to be, or were strong. The parents, and the children were welded together as one unit. In both cases a parent died, and slowly the family unit started to break. In another family that I am watching, the family is held together by a rich member of the family. I am not too sure of what will happen after he passes into the nether worlds.
It occurred to me rather belatedly that both the families were held together by one person who was, as it seems, the binding force in the unit. In these families, it was a parent, but this does not have to be the case.
Families are like organizations, albeit simpler versions of organizations. After I watched these families disintegrate, I decided to do some research on teams, on the mysterious factors that weld teams together. I read a lot of material on teams, on how they are held together by a common vision; about various themes like forming, norming, the role of a strong leader, and a whole lot of other such material. There was nothing that actually spoke about the people who hold teams together.
In general, people believe that teams are held together by the leaders who lead them. While this indeed may be true in most cases, it does not always tell the whole truth. While history records the exploits of the young Alexander the Great, it does not record the role played by his generals, or others down the line who held troop morale in place. I doubt that they marched across the world for the sole purpose of having Alexander’s name engraved into history books down the generations. A lot of them would have gone for blood and glory, and others would have gone for the spoils of war. And, there would have been many who, after the initial weeks, would have wished that they had just stayed at home, and watched the latest theatre with their friends, lovers and family. Yet, they marched on, and while they would have been inspired by Alexander in part, they would have been held together by other people who were more accessible to them; people who believed, who had access to information from above, and people who managed to know the rumbles and grumbles in the troops. These people would have had the ability to soothe, to allay doubts, to convey the ‘real’ message, and to be tough when needed.
There are people – not always leaders – who play an invaluable role in holding teams together. They are the glue, so to speak. We often talk of the bad apple, but not so often of the hidden glue.
It beholds every leader to know the glue, to nurture them, and to allow them to flower.