Do you bring your individuality to work every day? In today’s team-based corporate world we may forget to flex our individuality at work. Some believe this oversight is hurting the workplace. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, argues that too much teamwork can actually be counterproductive. Why? Because it promotes groupthink – an organizational development term that refers to suppressing individual opinion for the sake of group cohesion.
Others believe that corporate teamwork should be limited because innovation is slowed when individuals work together. In fact, Steve Wozniak, the famous co-founder of Apple Computer and the inventor of the very first Apple computer, admonishes innovative types who read his memoir to “work alone…not on a committee or team.”
I would beg to differ with both of these opinions. First, with proper leadership in a group, groupthink can be avoided. Secondly, innovation and creativity are likely enhanced by the variety of opinions and perspectives that are inherent in teamwork. In fact, Cain’s research indicates that more than 91% of high level managers agree with me, because they “believe that teams are key to success.” The more appropriate advice for individuals working in a team is to encourage them to flex their individuality to benefit the team and promote innovation.
Sadly, I have spoken with many corporate employees who are unsure of their individual talents. Happily, I can refer these individuals to the well-known and highly regarded StrengthsFinder assessment. Millions of people have already used this tool to discover and articulate their individual talents. After taking the 30-minute assessment on-line, customized reports are returned to the assessed explaining his or her 5 strengths. Remarkably, only one in 33 million individuals will have the same top 5 strengths in the same order – which speaks directly to our individuality.
The StrengthsFinder creator, Don Clifton, designed this tool because he believed that a more direct and impactful route to self-improvement and corporate success would result if individuals and businesses honed-in on the natural talents and gifts each person innately possesses. His paradigm about self-improvement, which originated in 1952, was a stark contrast to the world around him that focused on the problems of people and the world as a means to achievement. Unfortunately, despite evidence to the contrary, the world has continued to focus on inefficiency, weakness, and discerning what is lacking as opposed to focusing on ability, strength, and abundance of talent to solve problems.
Relying upon your individual talents allows you to become a better teammate. Understanding your natural gifts and embracing your uniqueness allows you to develop your individual perspective – a perspective that deserves to be heard. Teamwork is enhanced when individuals work together as equals – sharing ideas, challenging each other, and embracing new opinions. Your team needs your individual talents and strengths. Do you know what they are?