Gender and cross cultural diversity have been given a fair bit of focus in recent times
Each person is different - we have differ-ent emotional attributes. The ability to relate, empathize, trust or the tendency to get into conflict, or get angry are all features of the mind. At the intellectual level, we display analytical and logical thinking on the one hand, and creative and intuitive abilities on the other. All these features of the body, mind and intellect combine to generate capacities to learn, think, relate and act.
These features enable the development of competencies such as knowledge, skills and attitudes. Some of the attributes, intelligences and competencies are inborn due to genetic structures and many are acquired.
Some of us have the ability to leverage our uniqueness to the maximum extent. This is because we truly understand our ‘Purpose’ and the reason we have taken human birth. We have made the effort to know who we are. We have understood the true meaning of education - to know ourselves and to bring out our uniqueness. We have consciously chosen work that is in line with our purpose and we have leveraged our uniqueness to give off our personal best.
Organizations of consequence create spaces and cultures in which people discover who they are and the unique gifts they possess. They help people to understand their ‘calling’ (purpose) and connect this to the work that they do. They encourage teams to ‘discover’ one another and respect each other’s uniqueness. They systematically train people to appreciate the strengths of each member and learn how to maximum the usage of this uniqueness. Instead of putting focus on the weakness of each person, they help in compensating for inadequacy of certain aspects in some people by deploying the strengths of others. They also coach, mentor and teach people to leverage their strengths to become better at aspects that matter to them.
It is now known that teams and organizations with higher diversity are far more productive and innovative, provided they learn to celebrate diversity. This requires a carefully thought out strategy that looks at hiring, organization design, training and rewards in a new way. In addition to assigning individuals to roles in a conscious way, we need to staff project teams that lead different initiatives in a way that makes diversity work for the system.
Gender and cross cultural diversity have been given a fair bit of focus in recent times. However, most organizations do not pay enough attention to the aspect of multiple intelligences and individual traits while matching people to roles or staffing teams. For example, if an operations improvement team is staffed mostly with analytical and logical thinkers, but there is no creative thinker we are unlikely to get break-through results. Similarly, if we staff an ‘Employee Engagement Team’ with people with strong EQ but do not provide members with strong planning and project management skills, we may suffer in meeting deadlines. In a high conflict situation, having a team member with strong musical intelligence who can get teams to have fun and sing together can often lift the mood of the organization!
Diversity is an extremely important aspect, not just for organizations but also for educational institutions. Those of us who use only GMAT, CAT or such tests to evaluate business school applicants are deliberately killing diversity. Schools which consciously choose tools that measure multiple intelligences on the other hand celebrate diversity by selecting students who can learn a lot by leveraging each other’s uniqueness.
Once we begin the process of consciously deploying diversity as a precious gift of respecting fellow human beings, we will create a world around us which has trust and ‘community’. Conflicts would be used as channels of learning and the biggest crises would be handled with ease.