It was one of the most dreaded and fearful forces in the Star Trek world – the infamous Borg. The Borg was a collection of drones connected to a single mind. It grew at the rate it could assimilate the minds of other beings into “the collective,” and as it alluded, “resistance was futile.”
Assimilation – the extraction of one’s own individuality – was a painfully excruciating operation. Once diverse beings were assimilated into “the collective,” they no longer operated as individuals. They could not think for themselves. They could not operate independently.
They could only obey the command of the central mind.
Those who attempted to resist were met with painful and debilitating consequences.
The goal of the Borg was perfection. But that collective perfection came at great sacrifice to individuals. Perfection is a dangerous and never-ending pursuit, so the more it grew, the more formidable it became.
What broke the power of the Borg?
In each case, the only counter-offense to the Borg were individuals who were outside the collective. These were those who were able to operate together, but from their various strengths. It was a case of the collective vs diversity, and perfection vs. imperfection.
In the end, diversity and imperfection won.
The fact is, there are companies who operate with a Borg mentality.
They draw in great individuals – very talented and skilled people with diverse strengths. They begin to “assimilate” them into the mainstream of the company, governing not just what needs to be done but exactly how it must be done. New ideas are not entertained. Things must be done as they always have been. Challenges must be subdued. Some individuals may try to resist the company collective by daring to offer up new ideas, new methodologies, and new perspective; but in the end, those who remain are those who explicitly comply.
In pursuit of corporate perfection, companies can lose the innovation that comes from diversity. Now while each company has a distinctive framework of business – a certain culture, common vision, and operating procedures, each person within those companies must be valued for their individual strengths.
How do you as a leader create a culture of teamwork without the Borg mentality?
Build a team with diverse strengths.
Seek opposite strengths, not identical ones. Look for the gaps in your team in terms of strengths, and fill those gaps. Adding a person with the same strengths would only widen the gap. For example, if you have a marketing team that is getting a high number of leads, but the closing rate is low, look for a closer, not another lead generator.
While the tendency is to encourage assimilation, instead encourage growth in individual strengths. Foster the strengths that make each person unique instead of pushing them to learn in areas of weakness.
Seek those who will challenge you.
It is human nature to resist challenge. But sometimes a challenge is exactly what is needed. A good leader will hire those who will challenge them – not “yes people” but those who will respectfully provide an opposing opinion. Companies have been saved by having this form of checks and balances in place.
Teach your team the value of strengths-based diversity.
Teams are often fragmented by a clique-mentality, where those with similar strengths divide from those of other strengths. Teach your team the value of reaching across the aisle. Introverts need extroverts, and detailers need big picture thinkers.
Don’t try to change the people you hire.
As a leader, you spend a great deal of time and money to find employees with great attitudes, skills, and strengths. You look for a certain set of strengths to fill a certain need. Unfortunately, what happens after the hire is often detrimental to performance. A leader may seek to change the very person they hired – to put them in situations and positions that don’t fit their strengths. In seeking to adapt, the employee begins to lose touch with his or strengths. It is a painfully Borg-like process, and they will either resist the change, or accept it and lose themselves in the process.
Here’s the bottom line…welcome the resistance. It is not futile. It is simply the expression of individuality within your organization. It is the sign of a healthy business.
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.