The Hunger Games’ Three Ways to Enhance Collaboration

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There’s this great scene in the Hunger Games (Catching Fire) where Katniss and Peeta are speaking at each of the twelve districts as part of their “Victory Tour.” At these events, the townspeople are expected to act cheerful as the victors discuss how they won the brutal Hunger Games. In a climatic scene, our heroes go off script and begin to build support for a rebellion against the authoritative regime.

This event is a pivotal moment for Katniss and Peeta. They understand the overwhelming power of the Capital and know that it will take a collaborative effort to overthrow the current government. This same level of collaboration is essential for all leaders.

A successful leader requires the ability to bring people together for a common purpose. To help start your movement, here are three tips for building collaboration in your team:

Recognize the destructive outcomes of silos

The malicious Capital was able to maintain power because they segregated the population. The easy separation was how each district maintained a physical detachment from other districts; besides barricades, there was an expansive distance between neighboring districts. The more effective siloes were psychological. The Capital manufactured animosity and unhealthy competition through the Hunger Games. After all, districts could not work together knowing they would be forced to send their children into the “kill or be killed” contest.

As the Capital found, silos are an effective way to hold onto control IF your leadership style is dictatorial and your intentions are less than altruistic. For the rest of us, a silo mentality suppresses people’s willingness to share information. This then results in reduced productivity, efficiency, engagement, and a caustic company culture. To break your silos, create intra-departmental teams to complete projects, reward those who display a cooperative method of working, and dissuade anyone participating in a power struggle.

Emphasis trust

Collaboration is reliant upon trust—trust in the leaders, co-workers, subordinates, and overall organization. Since you can’t demand trust, it is imperative to your leadership that you figure out how to earn it. Katniss became the poster child for the rebellion after viewers of the games observed her humanity towards opponents. Finnick became an ally after he administered CPR on Peeta. And Beetee created the plan to blow up the arena’s forcefield, thus saving everyone caught in the battle.

What do these three characters have in common? They relied on their actions to build trust. A leader’s actions must reinforce the collaborative culture they are trying to build. This involves practicing open and ongoing communication, distinguishing suspicious and cynical attitudes, and encouraging shared knowledge.

Help others develop relationships

Collaboration is dependent upon well-developed personal relationships. Katniss built these relationships in spite of her surroundings; your staff can build them because of their leader. We cannot make people be friends, but we can create opportunities for staff to work in teams, build personal ties, and develop mutual appreciation for work being done. Lead by example and others will follow.

It is time to decide whether you want to lead like the Capital or like Katniss. If you choose the former, this article probably was not of much use (Consider reading, “How to Lead Like a Tyrant: The President Coriolanus Snow Story”). For everyone else, establish your reputation as a collaborative leader. Bring others on board and “infect” them with your contagious collective spirit. Incentivize team work, break silo thinking, and “may the odds be ever in your favor.”

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