Differences are always bound to happen. We differ in views, likes, talents, gifts, beliefs and characters more importantly. We differ in our own very homes where we are very closely related and in churches where we share the same beliefs. The differences translate without doubt into business organisations. Many challenges may come with these differences and at times the differences lead to some serious conflicts.
Power of diversity
Maya Angelou is quoted, “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”
Stephen R. Covey is also quoted, “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.”
It is without a doubt that differences have always led to some serious fights in our history for example the well-known world wars 1 and 2 that resulted in some of the most unforgettable and unaccountable great losses. This all I define it as the negative power of diversity. I would then like to make the reader understand what is the positive power of diversity and how it affects business organisations.
Positive power of diversity
Have you ever thought of how the body functions? So many different parts to define one person with one personality. Lose one and we have the very same person with the same personality.
Yes, the very same applies to our business organisations. Sundar Pichai is quoted, “A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.”
The challenge that every organisation has faced is the pain that comes with generational differences. This has created a serious gap that has brought conflicts at times. The question is how then we can mobilise our organisational teams to function effectively amidst existing diversity.
The role of leadership in integration.
I will refer back to the human body to make you understand the power of leadership in organisations and integration of diverse personalities that exist within. Leadership is like the central nervous system of the organisational body. Without the brain, the body cannot function. It is the role of the brain to integrate all the information sent to and by the different parts that perform specific tasks. The same applies to the business organisation, there is always a vision and a mission to accomplish and it is the role of the leadership to make use of the diversity of the different personalities that exist within a business organisation.
How to integrate.
The brain sends information that relates to a specific task that a hand can do. Just because it is a body part, it does not then translate it has to see. It is key for the leadership of an organisation to bear the kind of mindset that accepts that diversity is beautiful. This is only then that they can make use of diversity.
Mahatma Gandhi is quoted, “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation.” It is only in accepting diversity in personalities that the organisations can then reach their goals.
The role of leadership is then to understand what each personality within the organisation is and how to make better use of it.
Understanding personalities (The OCEAN)
The ocean is what is generally accepted as the big five of the personality traits. This was established by two research teams led by Paul Costa and Robert R. McCrae of the National Institutes of Health and Warren Norman and Lewis Goldberg of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and the University of Oregon in the 1970’s, according to Scientific American.
These are the kind of people willing to learn and are not so rigid. This can be a very crucial personality if it can exist in the old age generation as it would be key in bridging the generational gap. Yes, you know it right? The, “we do it this way”, against, “can we try it this way now.”
An organised and strong sense of duty personality. Results-oriented and very focused on achieving the goal. This is key in areas that great focus in organisations is the key to success. These are the kind of dependable people.
These are more sociable people. Stephanie Pappas refers to them as social butterflies. These are the kind of personalities that could be key in driving energy in others. If the leadership could identify this kind of personality and ensure that there is enough in each team, the organisation will functional productively.
The more agreeable someone is, the more likely they are to be trusting, helpful and compassionate. This personality would be key in helping other personalities get over with their lives well by helping them. They would also be easy to delegate to them assignments that need to be done through following advice.
This is the always worrying kind of personality. These kinds of people always fall into anxiety and depression. This is the type that will need to work with supervision and maximum assistance.
The way to go
It is without a doubt that diversity can be a challenge but it is no doubt that each organisation must function. I would then conclude that dealing with diversity in personalities is a state of the mind issue. It is also key to state that where there is diversity there is need for an integrating factor. In every organisation, it is the leadership of the organisation. That implies that each organisation needs the right leadership to deal with issues related to personality differences.
Blessmore Ndemo is a data analyst at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and human resources consulting firm.
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