We gravitate toward people who are like us, particularly when we are hiring or looking for new members of our team or coalition. It’s so much easier to work with people who think like us, talk like us and act like us. Although it may appear counter-intuitive and even difficult, I recommend seeking out those who are different from you. And here’s why….
- They see things you cannot see. Whether you are working on a product or paper or are leading a meeting, it is extremely important to have someone different than you who can see things you cannot see. One of my favorite personality profiles is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (you can ask my husband who was convinced that I was “testing” him early in our dating). Based on this profile, I tend to see the “big picture” and can sometimes miss the details. I have a colleague who is just the opposite of me in this area. Whenever I write something or develop a presentation and share it with her, she often asks me to be more clear about what I really mean or what I don’t mean. I must admit, this used to drive me crazy and at first I thought she was just trying to be difficult. However, I now learn to appreciate the feedback and ask for it. I know that she can see things I cannot see, and the product, paper or presentation is better, clearer and more useful to others when I ask for her help.
- They do the things that you aren’t good at doing. I will never forget sitting in my high school physics class confused and discouraged. I left the class most days in tears. However, I also remember some of my classmates who were excited, enthusiastic and really good at physics. The only way I made it through the class was leaning on them for support! I learned an important lesson that year. We need to surround ourselves with people who are really good at the things that we don’t do well. I’m incredibly grateful that there are lots of people who have the skills, experience and ability to do the things I’m not able to do well. The best team is one where each person knows his own strengths and weaknesses and is willing to work together with others who have different strengths and weaknesses.
- They help you grow. Although it is so much easier and more comfortable to surround yourself with people who will agree with you and see the world the way you see it, it prevents you from growing. Some of the best personal and team growth happens when we include and seek out people who think, talk and act differently than we do. The conversations may not be easy, comfortable or efficient, but the end result (and your character) is so much better than it would be if you stayed in your “comfort zone.”
When have you found it beneficial to work with someone different thank you?