The Value of Differences

The Value the Differences

Many years ago, I watched a movie called August Rush. It was about a young boy who could hear music in all of the sounds around him. He could hear rhythm and beauty in the multiplicity of everyday sounds: in everything…the sound of the wind, the sound of a breaking twig, a tin can, the tap of a shoe.

I enjoyed the movie, and it made me start to think about the fact that there are people in the world with extraordinary abilities and talents—not just people like the boy in the movie who can hear the distinct sounds of music but also artists who can see a multiplicity of uniquely defined colors in objects that appear to be just one color to most of us.

Just think about it. We all see and hear things differently. We all have different talents. We all have different interpretations of the world around us. Just because I see things in one way does not necessarily mean that you see them in the same way. Yet in business, leadership often expects the members of their teams to see things in exactly the same way as they do, and, if they don’t, this sometimes not only causes offense but sometimes accusations of disloyalty.

Unfortunately, that’s the way we tend to be as human beings. We all see things in different ways, and just because someone doesn’t see things in the same way as us, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are wrong


As a CEO, I always had a particular painting hanging in my office. It was a painting of a conductor and orchestra. I would tell my team that I was the conductor. I did not need to be (and was not) the most gifted musician in the orchestra. I had gifted and diverse people around me. My job was to get the best out of each member of the orchestra, respecting that each of them had different skill sets and talents. My job was to work hard at getting the absolute best out of each of them and making sure that they played together – played in harmony while respecting their individual diversity.

It is important to remember that there is value in differences and these differences can add great value to any organization.