The quality of a team often reflects the metaphor by which the members organize. One powerful but underrated metaphor is the team as a “hive.” Think bees.
In a hive, the team always supersedes the individual. What is good for the team is always good for the individual, whether the team member recognizes it or not. The hive operates from a singular mission and message and stays on course — or dies. Distraction from this mission is the enemy and every team member treats interference as a serious threat.
Hive teams are highly insular and don’t allow non-team members to learn much about the team. Information about the team is guarded, and criticism from afar is soundly rejected. Everything is about the hive. Loyalty between team members in a hive is akin to locking hands to achieving everyday results. Because everyone is on-task at all times, loyalty to each other means showing up ready to perform.
The hive metaphor works well for many athletic teams, start-ups, and mission-oriented teams. Teams utilize a variety of metaphors to express the way they organize and to remind members about how they should think of and treat one another. Popular team metaphors include family, sport, military, laboratory, orchestra, community, and neighborhood.
What metaphor guides your team?