Build your team’s inner ‘Michelangelo’

What’s that?  The Italian Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo is celebrated for his ability to see something that at first glance was merely a block of marble.  Michelangelo could envision the potential in the block even before his audience could understand his vision, resulting in the famous statue of David. He described sculpting as a process whereby the artist released a hidden figure from the block of stone.

Inspired by Michelangelo, psychologists have observed what is known as the Michelangelo phenomenon in relationships.

A process by which interpersonal relationships influence and ‘sculpt’ positive self-actualization. The process advocates for promoting the qualitities, skills and even copetencies we believe an individual either has or can develop

The Michelangelo effect deals with the ways in which relationships influence and “sculpt” each other. When a peer or manager sees potential in the other and behaves towards them in ways that promote this ideal, it influences the other to live up to their ideal self.  Similar to the concept of ‘modelling’ the behaviour you wish to see, the Michelangelo phenomenon advocates for promoting the qualities, skills and even competencies we believe an individual either has or can develop. 

This implies that if we believe in the inner capability of our team or peer  and actively help to develop them through things like stretch goals, project opportunities and training, research demonstrates that they not only meet they often exceed the benchmark.  The result?  Highly skilled and motivated teams that are driven to perform more proficiently and are more engaged overall.