Pygmalion Effect

Have you ever heard team members say “We will exceed the goals of our manager?” Have you witnessed a team outperforming others just because their manager believed so?

It is seen time and again that even an average performer, when he joins a winning team becomes an outperformer. One classic example I can think of is the Indian Cricket Team. When Dhoni was made the Captain, the Indian cricket team was not performing very well. If you watch any interview of Dhoni at that time, he used to wholeheartedly praise the team and always said that he had high expectations from the team. This conviction actually made each & every member perform to their full potential leading them to win the much-awaited World Cup in 2011.

It’s very common to see that if the right leader joins the organization, he can turn around the company with his positive expectations from the team. In Greek Mythology, Pygmalion was a sculptor who once made a beautiful sculpture of a lady and fell in love with her. He started believing that the sculpture is real & one day that sculpture actually manifested into a real lady. On similar lines, the way managers treat their employees is the employee’s reality. If the manager believes that the team will do very well, the team’s productivity soars high & if the manager’s expectations are low, the team actually underperforms.

This is known as the famous Pygmalion effect and the corollary is known as the Golem effect, both of which are self-fulfilling prophecies.

Pygmalion effect has been tried and tested through number of experiments by behavioral scientists & has been proved right. Thus, when we are looking to improve the productivity & performance of a team, it is very important to study the manager’s attitude towards his team.

Managers beware! The next time you tell your team that they are not up to the mark, say it with caution, as they may actually prove you right!