J. LeRoy (Jim Benson) has just written a fantastic post on Atomic Agility, i.e. the Social Atom and how people react to others actions, how group think evolves, and, quite interestingly, what this implies in terms of how we manage teams. It's a very thought provoking post and well worth a read.
Here's a key takeout for me:
The social atom highlights an important element of Agile Management - that individuals do behave differently in groups. We therefore manage both individuals and groups. Our tactics for individual performance, however, often rely on individual negotiating techniques and coercions, not on an analysis of the group dynamic.
It's quite a statement. There's a whole lot of lip service given in management circles to the team, but all to often it's the individuals we place first. Personally, the times where I've really seen greatest success is when I've ensured that the team comes first and the individuals second - when you can get each and every person in a team working for each other instead of themselves, then you will have found something truly rare and amazing, and the results will speak for themselves.