Generally when working in teams, people are quick to say the common adage that

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link

Which implies that it only takes one poor team member to destroy a team's work. However I was wondering if anyone knew of any opposite versions of this, in which one strong member on a team can lead the team to success, or, more specifically what I am looking for, the idea that one weak member can grow stronger from those team members helping around them. A quick thought I made up myself went as

If the strong help the weak lift weights in the gym, soon all will be strong.

But I was wondering if there was something more established I hadn't heard of.

  • 1
    This isn’t an answer but I used to regularly do physical labor with a friend who is very large and strong. One day the team left him a difficult task to do because he could handle it. He said, “Just because I’m stronger doesn’t mean it weighs any less when I have to lift it.” I thought that was profound and it has stuck with me for years.
    – Preston
    Nov 18, 2019 at 4:55
  • I would love to learn a term for this. I often tell system designers, "Security is rings, not chains", specifically because chains fail due to one link Nov 18, 2019 at 5:04
  • It is widely acknowledged in sports that "a superstar makes everyone else on the team better"—the reason being that he (or she) takes pressure off the other players by drawing the attention of the opposing players, leaving everyone else on the team with more room to operate.
    – Sven Yargs
    Nov 24, 2019 at 1:41

1 Answer 1


There is the expression the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

From "Injection: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts" by Duff Anderson:

Aristotle said that, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” In other words, when individual parts are connected together to form one entity, they are worth more than if the parts were in silos. This is relevant when we connect what customers say with what customers do, as the understanding of their needs and ability to respond to them is improved exponentially.

Or, to restate it again, a single person, great or small, doesn't determine the worth of a team. In a team, the synergy of everyone involved leads to its success (or failure).

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