Scott’s Thoughts: Diversity is Genius

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

-Albert Einstein, German-born theoretical physicist.

Fish in a pond.I love the insight in this Einstein quote. It so elegantly describes a common problem: People often evaluate others by the wrong criteria, and the result is frequently tragic. Not only is a unique skill set overlooked, but the person who is judged ends up feeling worthless for failing to measure up.

I think this quote is a great way to think about building effective teams. You can’t build a great team if all of the players have the same skill set. To build great teams, you have to learn to value the unique genius of each member. You must learn to see their talents without the bias of your own talents. A great salesperson often devalues their IT people simply because they think “sales is king.” But how much can they sell if their CRM platform is buggy, or their laptop is exposed to malware and other security exploits? Likewise, the IT person should recognize that the salesperson is key to ensuring there’s a business need for sophisticated platforms and security.

It’s easy to know you’re not good at something. It takes real wisdom to identify what you’re not good at and simultaneously appreciate the value of it. Perhaps we’re held back when we think what we have chosen to specialize in is the most important role in a team.

If you’re in charge of building a team, strive to evaluate each contributor in terms of their special skill set and respect their role.

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