Organizational Spotlight Effect’-The danger and the solution

The ‘spotlight effect’ is a psychological quirk by which a person thinks that s/he is being noticed more by others than s/he actually is.

In psychological parlance there’s no such thing as ‘organizational spotlight effect.’ But there as well be.

For certain organizations, or rather teams in organizations get a collective spotlight effect which doesn’t always result in great performances. Also, uncovering the reasons for this effect could yield interesting insights into the functioning of a team.

But before we do that, a couple of things about the spotlight effect should be mentioned.


A team may feel like they are the world everyone’s focused on, and that could hamper their performance

Though a quirk, it is by no means an uncommon phenomenon in individuals. In fact, it’s universal. One reasoning is that since we are by nature the centre of attention in our lives, we end up extending this view points to others as well.

The effects of the spotlight effect on individuals may not always be negative. For instance, the extra sense of attention makes some people work ever harder and could lead to hastened self-improvement.

How does organizational spotlight effect happen?

In organizations, spotlight effect could manifest in teams for a significant reason. We look at the reason closely here.

The team is unsure about their purpose

As individual change agents need purpose or goal to function, the team also needs the same. Even though a team is technically defined as a collection of individuals, on the level of defining goals for a team, it remains a little abstract. For instance, you could assign objectives to individual team members. Going by the aforementioned definition that the team is a collective of people, this should technically comprise the team’s goal. However, we all know that’s not the case. Pursuing individual goals doesn’t necessary translate to a collective endeavor towards a common goal.

Neither is the objective or goal here meant as a target. For instance, a meeting a monthly target is not an objective in the sense that’s meant here.

The objective is the larger picture- one in which monthly targets etc. becomes waypoints in the journey. For instance, the purpose of a team could be to consistently come up with innovative product ideas for a company. In this case, a deadline for the design of a gadget they are presently conceiving is the short term goal while the idea of being innovative is the purpose- which is constant by definition.

In the absence of such a purpose, the team members are consistently anxious. They are unsure whether what they are doing is right or wrong precisely because they don’t know what they are collectively supposed to do on the first place. In other words, there is no yardstick for them to measure their own performances.

This anxiety could result in what we term as the ‘organizational spotlight effect.’

Waylaid thinking and frenzied activities are often the result. Confusion and delays in processes are collateral effects.

How to instill purpose in teams?

Most managers and team leaders, when confronted with such a situation confuses a short term objective with a purpose. To get the team back on track, s/he gives the team directives to achieve a certain goal in a limited time.

Though well meaning, such a measure rarely yields results. At least, not in the long run.

To do that, the only way is for the team to have a purpose- one which the entire team is in agreement with. And that’s exactly what a Compelling Shared Vision is.



Compelling Shared Vision

A Compelling Shared Vision is the vision that’s born from within the collective self of the team members. It’s the shared objective towards which the team members could move. It’s important to know that this vision is not imposed on the team from the outside. Rather, it’s something that they discover, something that’s in sync with the overall organization strategy and also their individual aspirations. Put simply, it’s a transformative vision which takes the team’s performance from their current state to unforeseen heights.

Temenos Vision Lab or TVL is a unique session developed by Temenos+Agility that helps teams realize their Compelling Shared Vision and individuals their True Personal Vision. Developed with 25 years of business consultancy experience and incorporating psychological insights, TVL enlists some of the best leadership coaches to guide teams towards their Compelling Shared Vision.

A more cohesive team, better clarity regarding their forward trajectory, empowered individual team members who could make better decisions on their own- these and more are the benefits that teams stand to gain with TVL.

With TVL, only the right kind of spotlight will be on the team!

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