On Teamwork

Many geeks have the propensity to be individualistic animals.

The geek is nocturnal and is a solitary creature that feeds almost exclusively on Doritos and Coke; the only fruit eaten by geeks is that fermented into beer. A geek emerges from its burrow in the late afternoon or shortly after sunset, and operates over a limited home range, peering at a computer screen. When a concentration of Slashdot articles is detected, the geek digs into it with its powerful skills, keeping its shoulders hunched in order to escape management notice. When successful, the incorrect people’s or troll’s stinging attacks are rendered futile by the amazing power of the geek’s brain. Its keen hearing warns it of predators: managers, directors, and idiotic users.

(Description flagrantly poached from Wikipedia’s Aardvark entry. It’s surprising how little I had to change.)

Despite the geek’s solitary tendencies, she may be required to work on projects that involve (gasp) other people. If the geek is fortunate, she will have to work in a team with other geeks, who are more likely to have the same tendencies. In this circumstance, geeks are usually capable of finding their own common ground, and your skills as a leader will be called upon in the case of conflicting ideas and solutions.

If the geek is unfortunate, she will have to work in a team with non-geeks or semi-geeks, who have vastly differing habits. For example, she may be required to attend a meeting in the morning, or communicate via telephone or face-to-face. In this case, as a leader, you will be required to prod your geek a bit more in order to make her engage in this working environment.

Whenever a geek with solitary tendencies is forced into any team environment, watch her carefully. Make sure she has your support, and do not assume she understands group behaviors that you believe to be normal. Many geeks will rise to the challenge and surprise you. Some might take mentoring in order to learn how to adapt to this environment. There are very few who cannot eventually adapt, at least for short periods of time.