Leadership: Workplace Disharmony vs. Diversity
by Kate Nasser |
Many leaders and managers are alarmed when disharmony surfaces in their organizations. Yet what is the difference between disharmony and diversity of thought? When is it discord and when is it discourse?
Can you tell when it is fueling divisive paralysis and when, a spirited exploration of valuable views?
Image by: Sean Wallis via Creative Commons License
Leaders do well to first identify what distinction they themselves make, if any, between disharmony and diversity of thought.
For some, any disagreement is disharmony. Perhaps they are afraid of conflict or they believe people should just follow orders. These leaders get frustrated and annoyed when it takes hold and wish it could disappear as quickly as it seemed to surface. Their common outcry: “Can’t the employees work it out for themselves? We’re paying them to work together.”
Well, wish-craft is not a winning leadership strategy. Some would argue it’s not leadership at all.
For other leaders, harmony represents inaction and impending failure. They thrive on spirited debate and disagreement to the point they do not see when it becomes harmfully divisive.
There is no need to confuse disharmony and diversity of thought.
Diversity vs. Disharmony – Key Distinctions
- Diversity of thought is rooted in respect for ideas and for each other. Disharmony grows from fear and disrespect for others, their ideas, and their ways of working.
- Diversity excites; it doesn’t enrage. Diversity expands possibilities; it doesn’t limit. Disharmony, with all its disrespect and power struggles, strangles success with resentment, cliques, and self-protection.
- The return on diversity of thought is growth, innovation, and stronger bonds through learning. The return of disharmony is less collaboration, lower morale, rampant mistrust and organizational paralysis.
Diversity of thought thrives in hearing each others’ views. Disharmony spikes when people take credit for others’ ideas, forget civility, hijack team time with selfish personal agendas, brutally battle for promotions, use emotional bluntness instead of helpful honesty, and suffocate progress with passive aggressive behavior.
The emotion of disharmony drains the team’s energy and attention from successful behaviors. It’s wise to stop this pernicious force in its tracks. Develop people-skills and emotional intelligence to civilly and respectfully disagree.
Encourage diverse views with sincere, transparent respect for each other and the organization’s vision and you will propel all to dynamic success.
What else causes disharmony? Are there other factors you would add?
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™
©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.