In 1982, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder released a number-one single titled Ebony and Ivory. The lyrics was a great representation of two contrasting types of keys, each with a different performance expectations, yet live in perfect harmony side-by-side on my piano, oh why can't we! As a musician, I have a perfect understanding of the essence of this song. As a leader and consultant, I understand and teach others the importance of diversity. I often use the example of the piano keys to display the power of embracing diversity in the organization to enhance your performance and that of those around you.
A musician understands the impact of each key, the unique pitch it provides and how it is used to form a chord and arrangement. Although there are only 12 keys in an octave, the combination of them help provide music with meaning. Changing the blend of notes creates a different harmonic sound. Playing the same pitched note in a different place on the keyboard changes the tone and sound. In contrast, striking a note that does not match the chord creates a negative sound that takes away from the arrangement. Good musicians are adept at knowing the importance of each note, its relationship to the chord, key, and song.
Leaders must understand the importance of utilizing a diverse workforce. We are all different and effective leaders are adept at pulling out the excellence in each individual. Recognizing the strengths of each individual and placing him or her in the correct position allows that person to flourish but also creates value for the team, the organization, and the leader.
The world would be a boring place if we all thought alike or had the same talents.
Recognizing and utilizing the talents of your people will make you a better leader and create a legacy of developing those given to you.