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  • Writer's picturePhil Marsland


When I was at primary school, division was the hardest thing, especially long division! Nowadays, division is easy. Stick out provocative views and opinions, stick belligerently to them, stick your fingers in your ears to everything else and go "la la la I'm not listening".

You may fear that this article is about to plunge directly into politics. Fear not. My views are my own, as are yours. Anything I say on politics you are likely to either violently agree with or violently disagree with.

This division makes me sad. Where is respect? where is listening? where is understanding and where is tolerance?

Now you may think I'm still talking about us, and our 'United' [sic] kingdom, but my words also apply to the world of work.

How often do we condition and homogenise? Turn up at this time. Go at this time. Wear this. Don't wear that. This is how we do things around here.

We tick boxes on annual reviews. We have competency frameworks that need to be ticked. We focus on gaps and "improvement opportunities". We want sameness and folk to be like us. Or at very least not different to us.

Now, once again, you may think I'm just talking about social diversity. Maybe. But that really is not my point.

I am talking about the huge benefits of diversity of thought, diversity of contribution, diversity of approach. These are the drivers of competitive edge and P&L difference.

Sameness begets, well, sameness. Sameness keeps you where you are, at best. Difference, creativity and innovation take you forward. And you don't get that by same box thinking and nodding agreement to the most powerful person in the room.

We need to be more flexible in how we recruit, how we identify and play to people's strengths, how we lead, manage, trust and empower. Yes, we need to have folk aligned, with a common sense of purpose, pulling together in the same direction. But we don't need sameness of people and thought.

So the above is advice to business leaders and managers, but as individuals we can also act. We can share more of ourselves, show what our strengths and passions are, be honest about our weaknesses, and encourage others to do the same. We can create the right environment for ourselves and our people to thrive and grow in work.

This sentiment is best summed up in one of my guiding principles:

"Be yourself. Everyone else is taken."

See how we apply these and other "Work.Better." principles on Our Successes

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