This post is part of a series about living well in groups. They are a series of meditations inspired by a chapter in the New Testament. It is Pauls first letter to the Corinthians chapter 12. Verse 22-23, in the New International Version of the Bible says,
. . . those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.
And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty . . .
A Hierarchy With Weakness at the Top
A group relies on the health of the vulnerable and weak. Groups that wish to care only about the strong end up being harsh and competitive – not nice places to be. And not very healthy ones either. If people are pushed to their limits then the result is lots of broken people; the decision (conscious or not) is that this is justified because of the exemplary performance of a few. (And if these few suffer bad consequences; then it is justified by their past achievement.)
If we look after the weaker will efficiency fall? Usually not. The usual problems with group productivity have to do with authority conflicts and the egos of the ‘leaders’; not the needs of the weak. And looking after people will contribute to solving these common problems.
This means taking time and listening. It may not always be easy, but it usually isn’t complicated. And the group, as well as the individuals in it, will be better because we do it.
If you can, think of a group where people were reliably cared for. What was done differently in this group; compared to others where only some were looked after (or maybe no one)?