Having read an insightful piece by American trainer Lolly Daskal, I was inspired to write about how acknowledging those around you, be it at home or work , leads to more productive relationships.

The article highlighted the importance placed on acknowledgment by the native Zulu tribes in South Africa (as one of our colleagues comes from these Zulu homelands, I was intrigued and read on). The Zulu describe this spirit as Ubuntu, which is the complimentary living that embraces a community in healing, interdependent sharing, and respect.

It is this spirit that has guided South Africa’s re-invention in the face of incredible political and social strife, and seen it prevail as a leading economic power in the continent and an example of multicultural co-existence. Think about how the new South Africa dealt with the evils of apartheid.  They held a Truth & Reconciliation process.  People were not jailed if they publically acknowledged their wrong-doings against their fellow citizens. Indeed this was the foundation for a stable and prosperous future.

Reflecting on this got me thinking about how we can embrace the same lessons in our day to day lives. Whether at work or home, we invariably find ourselves part of a team – but what are the synergies in these teams? What role does acknowledging a colleague or partner play in enhancing their performance and the overall performance and output of the team?

This made me think about the detailed insights provided by Lumina Spark (for those of you still unfamiliar with this innovative psychometric model, it’s a ground-breaking development tool that supports individuals and teams to be the most they can be, producing clear insight into how they can work more effectively with each other – discover more here)

As my South African colleague’s Lumina portrait suggests, in his everyday state he is a collaborative green energy. He is eager to work with others to achieve group goals and preserve a co-operative mindset (especially in competitive settings such as sales environments). However in a sales setting, these ‘strengths’ were often not valued!

I have seen numerous instances of staff discontent from a lack of inclusion or recognition in the group or team. At first I put it down to the individual being unable to adapt to the needs of the team. However I now believe that given acknowledgment of their unique qualities and skill-sets, these ‘ostracised’ staff would have delivered significant value to the team and indeed felt valued themselves.

So how should we best address opposites in a team? Perhaps acknowledging and recognising the unique perspective they bring. A member of a team who has opposite personality traits to their colleagues brings different perspectives and therefore enhances the team outlook, responses and vision.

If leaders proactively recognise the qualities of all their colleagues, particularly those that are different, they can prevent the loss of valuable people and all the disruption and cost that comes with turnover.

By using an in-depth form of trait analysis such as Lumina Spark, employers can identify the traits, strengths and weaknesses in their staff. They can then paint a picture of all the varied qualities, and where each individual can add value to the team, ensuring that those that are different are acknowledged and encouraged to keep adding value to the team.

Is the value derived from the whole, greater than the sum value of the individual parts?