Mutually helping team members achieve both individual and team objectives

Once upon a time, at a construction site, a wall was
being erected. The site was on a mountain and one side had
a deep precipice. Two workers were laying bricks and
cement to make a wall.

The workers were tied with ropes from their waists and
had to stand on the edge of the precipice or hang in the air
with the support of the ropes, to make the wall. As a worker
lifted a brick and tried to place it in position, it slipped and
fell down in the deep precipice. If any brick stayed in its
position, then as soon as cement was applied, it shifted
slightly from its position, and a straight wall could not be
built. Due to their working condition being uncomfortable
and dangerous, individually, they could not make the wall.

Then they decided to help each other and work together.
The first worker laid the brick and held it in place, while the
second worker applied cement. After sometime, they
changed their roles with the second worker holding the brick
in place, while the first worker applied the cement. In this
manner, while helping each other, they safely erected a
straight wall.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time: 100 Management Stories” by Rajen Jani

The concern of a team member is also the concern of the team

Once upon a time, a mouse, a chicken, a pig, and a cow
lived happily together in a farm. The farmer’s wife was
irritated by the mouse, as the mouse used to plunder the
kitchen at night. So, she bought a mousetrap and placed it in
the kitchen.

The mouse told the chicken, the pig, and the cow about
the mousetrap. As the mousetrap posed no threat to them,
they remained unconcerned.

Unfortunately, the mouse got trapped in the mousetrap.
As night fell, a snake slithered from the nearby field and
entered the kitchen. Seeing the snake, the trapped mouse
frantically squeaked at a very high pitch, while the snake
hissed and slowly came towards the mouse. Hearing noises
coming from the kitchen, the farmer’s wife got up from her
bed and went to the kitchen. As she switched on the kitchen
light, she saw the snake biting the mouse and the mouse
died. Then the snake turned, bit the foot of the farmer’s wife
and quickly slithered back to the field.

Due to the snakebite, the farmer’s wife became ill with a
very high fever. The village doctor recommended chicken
soup to bring the fever down. So, the farmer killed the
chicken. Hearing the sad news, in the morning, neighbors,
relatives, and friends came to see the farmer’s ailing wife and
to feed all of them, the farmer killed the pig. By afternoon,
the farmer’s wife died. The entire village attended her funeral
and to feed so many people, the farmer killed the cow.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time: 100 Management Stories” by Rajen Jani

Some team members act as adhesives to unite the team

Once upon a time, the management of a football team
noticed that the team, although comprised of the best
players, did not perform as expected. The management
instructed the team manager to make changes in the team.
The team manager asked the coach to suggest some names
of players, which could be inducted in the team.

The coach researched several teams and found that a
particular player was an average player, but whenever he
played any match, the team performed well and they always
won. The coach suggested the manager to bring in that
player into his team. The team manager forwarded the
suggestion of the coach to the management.

The management refused the suggestion of the coach, as
the player was an average player. However, the coach
insisted and the management finally conceded. The average
player was brought in and as the coach had thought, the
overall performance of the team improved. The average
player was instrumental in making the team perform above

What actually happened was that the average player was
a very good communicator and essentially a very good
person, although his playing skills were average. Due to his
goodness and communication skills, he was successful in
creating a strong bonding between the team members.
Whenever he played, all the team members played along with
him as a united team, rather than as individual players. This
unity, resulted in the overall performance being raised and
the team won, almost every match.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time: 100 Management Stories” by Rajen Jani

A team succeeds where an individual fails

Once upon a time, a disciple asked a monk, “How can I
obtain something, which in spite of all my efforts, I cannot

The monk noticed that in the sky, birds were flying in a

He asked the disciple to look at the birds and
said, “Birds fly in formation. For long distances, birds fly in a
V-formation. In a V-formation, the trailing wing of every bird creates a
partial vacuum, wherein another bird flies without extra
effort. The leading bird fights the headwind and when he is
fatigued, he goes back and another bird comes from the back
to take up the leading position. Each bird becomes a leading
bird in rotation, thereby preventing burnout of any single
bird. As they fly, the birds make sounds to encourage each
other. If any bird is injured or becomes sick, then one or
more birds fall out of the formation along with the injured
bird, and protect it from predators, until the injured bird
recovers or dies. Thereafter, the birds join another group of
birds and proceed their journey. This way birds can safely cover
a large distance, which any bird individually cannot.”

The disciple understood that to obtain something, which
cannot be obtained individually, firstly, a team had to be
formed; secondly, situational leadership may be practiced
with leadership roles temporarily shifting, as per the
demands of the situation; and thirdly, team members should
encourage and help each other.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time: 100 Management Stories” by Rajen Jani

A team is more than the sum of individuals

Once upon a time, a monk along with his disciples was
traveling on a road, and they saw a large pile of bricks. The
monk asked the disciples, “What is this?”

The disciples said, “It is a pile of bricks.”

After sometime, they came across a house. The monk
asked the disciples, “What is this?”

The disciples said, “It is a house.”

The monk asked, “How is it different from the pile of
bricks that we saw earlier?”

The disciples thought for a while but could not answer
the question.

Then the monk enlightened the disciples, “In the first
case, the pile of bricks was just a pile of bricks. In the second
case, the pile of bricks was a house. A house is more than
the sum of the pile of bricks that make it.”

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time: 100 Management Stories” by Rajen Jani