What It Takes to Sustain a Group

what’s the key to stability and success when teamwork is involved? The answer is having a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative interactions

This week’s podcast is about a bluegrass band that bucked the odds. While the average band is lucky to last 10 years together, with 2-3 years the average, the McClain family band sustained itself for 18 years and toured 62 countries. What was the key to their group chemistry? Mutual respect, and the right ratio of positive to negative interactions. Drawing on a half-century of analyzing the characteristics of loving, stable marriages, John Gottmann and his colleagues at the Love Lab have concluded that a 5:1 ratio of positive/negative interactions is the key to a good marriage. And an in-depth study of work teams at EDS (Ross Perot’s old company) took that ratio even higher. That study found that high-performance teams had a 5.6 positive/negative ratio versus a 0.4 ratio for low-performance teams. 

Released today: episode #41 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Paul Jenkins, the author of Bluegrass Ambassadors: The McLain Family Band in Appalachia and the World. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Image of Author, Paul D. Jenkin and his book cover "Bluegrass Ambassadors" on Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast #41.

Paul O. Jenkins is the university librarian at Franklin Pierce University and also the author of Richard Dyer-Bennet: The Last Minstrel and Teaching the Beatles

This episode covers a band that defies expectations. Formed in 1968, this band ran counter to the era twice over. First, they were intergenerational with their dad a key figure despite the slogan “don’t trust anybody over 30” being common then. Second, while the then two-year-old National Organization for Women (NOW) could only boast of 1,035 members across America, the McClain family band had two women playing prominent roles. The episode explores how bluegrass music varies from country music, and how musically inventive the group was. Finally, comparisons to the Beatles close out the episode.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc. His latest book, available on Amazon is Blah, Blah, Blah: A Snarky Guide to Office Lingo.