We can assemble a staff of the most skillful technicians and office staffers as far as their talent and training are concerned, but if they are unable to work together they will not be as effective as technicians and staffers with less talent and training but possesses more ability to work in concert as a team. We see examples of this truism in sports when a challenging team defeats the champion. In business, this occurs when a small business outperforms a mighty conglomerate. In international affairs it happens when a seemingly insignificant minor country, outwits and stymies the armies of the superpower. The catalyst in these scenarios is cohesion.
Effective leaders understand the immense power of unity and how it strengthens groups’ bonds and the ability to coordinate their energies to focus on achievement of goals. Cohesion is not a modern concept or invention. It’s been in our species’ DNA for millennia in the forms of ethnicity, religion, and empire-building. Our species learned the necessity of cohesion early in our history. Early humans quickly realized that they, as individuals, did not have the physical prowess that other animals. predators and prey, utilize. They organized into tribes with rules, tactics, and strategies that harnessed individuals into effective groups. They not only worked together, but they happily meshed together in their versions of teamwork.
Alexander the Great was one of the most effective ancient leaders due in large part to his ability to harness cohesiveness among his diverse, multicultural, conquering army. His mighty empire quickly collapsed upon Alexander’s death due to in-fighting among his lieutenants and followers. Some contemporary political experts and think tanks refer to Alexander’s biography to uncover what makes a successful campaign and how to maintain its momentum. Such experts seek ways to preserve and increase the momentum beyond the success of individual campaigns. As a rule, multi-generational empires enjoy more cohesion than single generational empires such as Alexander’s. To become established political entities requires a great deal of focus and cohesion. The most effective leaders retain the mindset of the challenger. In everyday lingo, the best sales staffs stay hungry.
Many of today’s headline issues and chronic social problems have come about because people are pulling in different directions. Corporations aim in opposing directions than the public, right wingers fight with left wingers, majorities grapple with minorities, believers and nonbelievers struggle against each other for dominance. The skill-levels and talent of each subculture are present, but each group is dead set against others. Such Balkanism ensures the demise of a nation. Savvy national leaders know how to manipulate the amounts and types of group interests to their own advantage and the disadvantage of their adversaries through propaganda and other subversive means. The most effective way for leaders to retain power is to groom cohesion amongst their supporters and incite division amongst their opponants. The history books are filled with examples of how empires were built and how their adversaries were crushed. Cohesion or the lack of it were the common denominators.
There are few times when competing sub-cultures and groups engage in meaningful conversations together. This is why a culture of trust, empathy, and patience is vital to national and group servival. We have the basic tools at our disposal. We just need to use them more effectively in order to cultivate cohesion and strength. The world remains a place filled with dangers and challenges. In my opinion, we need more positive cohesion in our human family in order to continue to survive and thrive.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes former United States Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting, Ben Rhodes. “Irrespective of our foreign policies, for decades, other nations and peoples could see, in the United States, a strong democracy that could maintain social cohesion, welcome immigrants of all backgrounds, and count on stable institutions.”