How Your Team Makes You More Valuable

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There's genuinely nothing more satisfying than a perfectly executed heist story. We're talking Ocean's 11, the TV series Leverage, a marvelous array of books. One thing the plot absolutely requires is a perfectly assembled ensemble: the tech expert, the martial artist, the getaway driver, the thief, the mastermind.


As it turns out, a workplace has a lot in common with a high-stakes robbery crew. That's according to researchers at Harvard's Growth Lab, who've found that one of the biggest keys to career success and longevity is making sure you fit in well with your coworkers. Per a press release, their new study found that "to earn high wages and returns on education, workers must find coworkers who complement, but not substitute, them."

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Or, as research director Frank Neffke puts it, "One person's skills connect to another person's skills, etc., and the better these connections, the more productive workers will be, and the more they will earn."


It makes sense that you're in a better position (or you offer a greater value proposition) the less overlap you present with your colleagues. Even if you're further on in your career, this is a great impetus to diversify your skill set and learn new things. One of the most misunderstood principles of Darwinian evolution is that "survival of the fittest" means something about strength or viciousness. Not so, writes columnist Alex Zeldin: "It means a species is best adapted to its environment and in the best position to reproduce. Sloths exist today because of 'survival of the fittest'!"

So go forth and find your niche — it's likely to pay off for you and everyone on your team.