5 reasons why diversity is crucial for success
Monday, June 09, 2014
As you may have noticed, most working professionals tend to surround themselves with like-minded individuals who have similar backgrounds, experiences and education. We naturally want to be liked, and liked by our people in turn: Only through the support of our colleagues and teamwork can we be most effective.
But while it's important that everyone on a team buy into the same overarching vision and share similar goals, there are some compelling reasons why it's crucial to work with others who possess different perspectives, skills and thoughts on how to achieve desired outcomes — even if their opinions may run counter to ours.
Here are five reminders why diversity is a crucial source of strength today — and why we must at all costs strive to court it.
1. It pays to find your polar opposites.
You want people whose strengths complement yours, not replicate them. Otherwise, you will remain challenged in the same areas. The key is understanding what your organization's strengths and weaknesses are and then casting a wide net to connect with others who can fill in the gaps.
2. You want someone to call your bluff.
A diverse network also provides alternate perspectives, letting you see problems in new ways or recognizing unforeseen opportunities and challenges. Constructive criticism is vital. The last thing you want around are yes-men (or women). Find people who can point out potential flies in the ointment.
3. Connections are crucial.
You are who you know. In a world where people are changing careers every four to five years, and jobs even more frequently, it’s important to be well-connected. The vast majority of jobs go unpublished, and the average recruiter looks at a resume for six seconds, making an "in" at a company tremendously useful.
Apart from these direct reasons, there are other, less obvious benefits. For example, if there's an area or industry with which you're unfamiliar or unskilled, or a project you're helming requires a specific set of talents or connections you don't possess, knowing who to call to fill in the gap can be an invaluable resource.
4. Breadth matters as much as depth.
It's important to be a subject-matter expert, but to stay relevant you also need talents that play across scenarios, industries and individual businesses — your area of expertise won't always carry the same weight or importance.
Take the opportunity to soak up diverse experiences, interact with others from different cultures and backgrounds, and explore new opportunities. You will become more of a Renaissance man or woman — and more valuable.
5. Learn from others.
If you tap into a diverse network, you get access to novel approaches and insights, allowing challenges to be tackled in new ways. These experiences are stretching and ultimately lead to self-improvement because of the wealth of learning you garner.
And anytime you sharpen yourself or your organization, you're on the road to future-proofing yourself, and staying relevant and essential for years to come.
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