Value People Who are Different than You

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 16, Issue No. 10b
February 15, 2018

By Dan Coughlin


I’m continually amazed when someone throws a group of people under the bus just because they are different than him or her.

Your Primary Advantage in Your Company

You have one primary resource to win in the game of business: the people in your organization.

Strategy, culture, and technology are all rendered meaningless without the people who work in your company. And yet for some mind-boggling reason stereotyping and assumptions affect important decisions over and over and over again.

Some older people act like Milennials, and by the way I’ve never met anyone named Mr. or Ms. Milennial, are complete lazy incompetents. Did they miss the memo that people in that age category are by far the most technologically-advanced generation in the history of the work force?

Some younger people act like Baby Boomers, and I’ve also never met a person named Mr. or Ms. Baby Boomer, are dinosaurs who “just don’t get it.” Did they miss the memo on the value of experience and industry knowledge?

Some men and women act like everyone in the opposite gender just have to be put up with even though their work is vastly inferior. Did they miss the memo that women today are the most highly educated gender in history, and that men today have vastly expanded their life experiences from even a generation ago?

What Do You Do in Emergencies?

If you went on a cruise and the ship was sinking, would you look at people as labels or as people who can help everyone survive? If your building was on fire, would you dismiss your co-workers by stereotype or work with everyone to get out of the building? Why is day-to-day business any different?

Please, please, please stop the stereotypes. Look for the value each individual person, each unique human being, brings to the table that can be leveraged to help your organization survive and thrive in a highly competitive marketplace.

You are not dealing with a stereotypical person. You are actually dealing with a unique human being who needs to be understood in order to extract the many possibilities he or she brings to the table.

You have one primary source of value to win with as an organization, and that is the people you have in your organization. Stop writing off potential talent based on looks, temperament, age, gender, experience, or function in the company.

Conduct a Capacity Audit and Use It

Instead ask these five questions:

  1. What character strengths does the person have?
  2. What are the person’s strongest talents?
  3. What are the person’s greatest passions?
  4. What are the person’s primary values?
  5. What is the person most confident in doing?

That is a very useful Capacity Audit.

Armed with the answers to those questions, I encourage you to look for more possibilities on how to leverage the capacity your employees bring to the table. Don’t fill roles by stereotypes, but rather fill them by carefully selecting the right person for the right role.

Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

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