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BW Businessworld

Analysis: Bonds That Gag

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As Francis Bacon said "nothing is good or bad — only thinking makes it so!"  As the case unfolds, we see a different side of Suyash. A side that is both endearing and frustrating — clearly he is a man of many parts. His genuine concern for Bashir is touching, a side obviously not seen by anyone till now. I am not sure whether the other team members will ever acknowledge or see that other side of him because they have convinced themselves that he is a "difficult person " who will never change.

Unfortunately, the corporate world looks to clone people, defining what "good looks like" — not necessarily making space for true diversity. Someone said "diversity is about counting the numbers but inclusion is about making the numbers count!" If we are to create a truly inclusive workplace, it is important for us to embrace the diversity of thought, ideas and views in a way that we can leverage those differences to create lasting value for everyone on the team. Being inclusive is a mindset — not a skill to be taught. Throughout the case we see that Suyash thinks about things differently. He is able to get to the nub of the problem or issue and challenges the status quo. But the team sees that as him being difficult and not operating to type.

Suyash needs help to understand the impact that he is having on his team members. He needs to understand that if he is to build a successful career, then he needs to improve his ability to influence those around him. He does need to take ownership for his own frustrations. He needs to understand that his inability to communicate his views and thoughts in a positive and constructive manner is at the heart of his being misunderstood.

Neuroscience principles have proven a few key principles that help us to understand what drives behaviours. The most important of these is that no two brains are even remotely alike. The second is that the brain is a connection machine — and it hard wires patterns of behaviours. Research goes on to say that it is very difficult to change hardwiring. BUT the good news is that it is EASY to create new wiring, which leads to different behaviours, which, in turn, impact the quality of results.

Coaching models today have moved away from rational/logical problem solving to a more brain-based approach which focuses on improving the quality of thinking. I believe that teams in Morro Group will benefit greatly from a focused intervention in more contemporary coaching approaches, to change the way team leaders think about team members and improve performance and behaviours through creating a need for change rather than telling people to change. Such change will never be sustainable.

David Rock has developed the new field of neuroleadership based on the principles of neuroscience. He has created the SCARF model which studies the five domains of human social experience and how this impacts and influences behavior. If we get a good understanding of these patterns of behaviour, it will help us to unlock ways of collaborating and influencing others. An individual's response in a group situation is influenced by their concern or need for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness. While this could change from situation to situation, it certainly drives their communication and problem solving style. The more I read about Suyash, the more I can't help but think that perhaps, he comes from a great need for Autonomy and Fairness. This is seen by his team leader as rebellion and disruptive behaviour.

I don't know whether the leaders in Morro Group have spent any time thinking about diversity, inclusion and individual motivation. Thus, I am not sure whether there is an environment or culture where people can speak their minds and share what brings out the best in them. If there was, perhaps there will be an opportunity for Suyash to share his concerns in a constructive manner and for people to leverage the strengths he has.

To Suyash I would say that if he really wants to build a successful career in Morro, he needs to find a way to work with his team leader to help them to understand his needs and collaborate with them effectively.

Creating the foundation for success in any relationship and particularly in organizations is a two-way street. It is about how we think about our role and our contribution. If everyone works on the principle that individual success is driven by collective success, then there is a possibility for genuine partnership and collaboration. I always remember the simple saying: you are only as strong as your weakest link. This team in Morro will succeed only when they have reviewed and strengthened every link in the chain.

Matangi Gowrishankar is a Regional HR Director with an MNC and is based in Singapore. She is passionate about people and organisation development

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 01-07-2013)