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Dissent and Diversity

We now know that diversity in teams promotes better problem solving and decision making. Several decades of research on group dynamics has demonstrated that heterogeneity beats homogeneity almost all the time. Teams of men and women solve problems better than single-sex teams. Groups that include varied specialties and training fare better. Diversity wins, whether it is diversity in personality, in interpersonal style, or in culture or ethnic background.

Clearly, then, we do not want to get rid of all the mavericks. We want teams in which a variety of leadership styles and responses to leadership are displayed—including resistance to leadership. We need movers and shakers on our teams, innovators who will generate ideas, and champions who will drive them forward. But we also need critics and skeptics who counter unbridled enthusiasm with cool doubt, who keep uncritical support from running away with unproved notions. Opposition to leadership can even serve the team by keeping leadership within bounds.


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