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Preference diversity: the essential team ingredient

01 March 2018


Diversity is defined as ‘many different types of things or people being included in something’. So how do we apply this when looking to build a productive team? What are the benefits of considering ‘preference diversity’?

So what is ‘preference diversity’?

Diversity by its very nature unites those that are unalike and we know when embraced can be harnessed to produce powerful results. Preference diversity occurs when a team has different behavioural preferences: different ways of working and solving issues and different communication styles.

What does ‘preference diversity’ bring to the table?

Many of us hire in our own image, which may be natural, but when we fully appreciate the need for diversity in a team, especially in leadership, we can bring in those truly needed to increase performance. Fresh perspectives and different ways of working help enrich a team, bringing balance and leading to more successful outcomes.

With preference diversity comes a more considered view on strategy and decision making, helping to lower risk in any growing organisation.

It sounds obvious to say that I know ‘my way is not the only way’ but in practice how often do we expect others to behave like us, communicate like us, have the same priorities, values and ultimately agree with our conclusions.

In a competitive environment, a little insight, variety and balance can go a long way towards improving team effectiveness.

Assumptions about behaviour

It’s amazing how we make assumptions about how certain people will behave – especially when it comes to gender.

There are definitely trends around this and our data at C-me Colour Profiling supports other statistics in suggesting women are more likely to lean towards a feeling preference and men towards a more reflective and analytical position. However it is best to be mindful that other forms of diversity, like gender, will not automatically lead to preference diversity.


Building on their 2014 report ‘Delivering through Diversity’ Mckinsys latest report published in January 2018 states, “In the original research, using 2014 diversity data, we found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 15 percent more likely to experience above- average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. In our expanded 2017 data set this number rose to 21 percent”

They conclude, “Gender diversity is correlated with both profitability and value creation.”

These are encouraging findings, but wouldn’t it be interesting to see the profile of these women and ask what other forms of diversity they brought into the role with them?

And what about those who don’t fit the trends? Are they constantly being expected to behave in a way that isn’t aligned with their natural behavior?

C-me Colour Profiling has been working with women in middle management within the education sector and one of the teachers comments stuck with me, “C- me’s statement that you can lead from anywhere on the wheel is really important – because there are certain qualities that do not always appear as valued and this gives women permission to build on their strengths rather than try to be what they ‘think’ is expected of them”.

Building on peoples’ strengths and helping people to flourish at what they do naturally is at the core of C-me’s mission. We know different behavioural preferences bring richness and depth to a team – now let’s give people the permission and tools to strengthen and harness their innate talent.

Culture economy


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