When considering the concept of workplace diversity, most think in terms of ethnic, gender or cultural differences. There is an equally important perspective to consider: Behavioral Diversity. Within every ethnic group, gender and culture we find diverse behavioral styles. These differences in style can result in synergy and/or conflict. Most likely both.
What is Behavioral Diversity?
Here are some examples.
- Some people are more more comfortable with other people than with things and data. For others, the reverse is true.
- We know people who can be forceful and sometimes angry while other are patient and reserved.
- While we have those who are optimistic, enthusiastic and trusting vs. the their skeptical counterparts from the Show-Me state.
- We have those anal folks that tend to the most minute of details while their counterparts fly above at 30,000 feet.
Are any of these styles especially good or bad? Are any unnecessary? It depends on their job requirements and their surrounding culture. Is your organization or your team dominated by any one type of behavioral style?
We can likely agree that an over-dominance of any of these different styles has potential downside. Untethered cautiousness or optimism or forcefulness can lead to either flawed decision making or vacillation. Behavioral diversity provides an oft needed tether for effective execution.
In mixing people with diverse styles, there is inherent conflict that is difficult to overcome. The result is can be draining expressions of emotions that range from anger to fear to impatience to frustration to indifference. In order to make behavioral diversity to work for us instead of against us, we need to help our people to understand and value the need for diverse styles and viewpoints and realize that conflict, when properly managed, conflict is a vital and necessary component to achievement for any team or organization.
Enhancing Your Awareness
- How well can you describe the behavioral styles of your team’s members?
- How do their attributes serve to enhance decision making and team performance?
- To what degree to the members of your team respect and value those with opposite tendencies?
- If you could improve your answers to these questions, how would things be better or different?