Everyone has value.
That's a dogmatic statement--some might disagree with me. Maybe you would say there are people who do not have value at all or who make a smaller contribution than others.
Without getting too moralistic about the topic, I'm in the camp that says all people have value and can make a contribution. It doesn't matter which country they come from, the color of their skin, their religion, or their political persuasion. When we start saying someone has more value because of a specific attribute--let's say a political viewpoint or a country of origin--we start segregating, devaluing, placing restrictions on how far someone can go in a career, and create social tiers.
As leaders in business, we have the awesome privilege of being able to guide people and instruct them, to provide a blueprint for completing tasks, to point in a certain direction. Too often, the role is relegated to that of a dictator. The loudest person in the room (or the angriest) is the leader. Or it's the person who happens to have that role. I've mentioned this before, but the younger generation of workers doesn't look at leadership that way. The leader is often the one who demonstrates the most expertise.
Apart from all of the other factors that make someone a great leader, one of the most important is an ability to bring out the best attributes of an employee. Say you've identified that someone is a number cruncher and loves to analyze data. As a leader, it's your job to direct that person to use his or her gifting and to find fulfillment in that role. If we keep directing the number cruncher to do creative work, we're doing that person a great disservice. It also makes you look bad. And the employee hates it.
Incidentally, it also doesn't help the company. Here's a good definition of a great company. It's a group of individuals who are all using their best attributes for the betterment of everyone. You can also define a bad company as a group of individuals who are all placed in roles in which they are not thriving, not excelling, and not doing their best work.
You do have a few other options as a leader, of course. You can keep directing the number cruncher to do creative work because you really need someone to make a brochure. You can put a creative person into a management role that requires leadership skills, but you might find that the person is constantly trying to escape from the office.
Honestly, when I was a corporate leader, I wish I had done more of this type of management. I was less perceptive and wasn't asking enough questions, wasn't fully aware of what people really wanted out of their careers. I needed people to do the work, and my focus was on making sure they did the work one way or another. The concept of directing people so their skills match up perfectly with their role can be difficult, because it might mean convincing a board or your boss that the person you hired doesn't fit the requisition. Even though it's hard, it's not impossible.
Too often, the goal is to achieve certain deliverables. Sell the most widgets, gain the most followers on Facebook, make the most money. There's a better goal. Find the best fit for everyone on your team. Make sure the square pegs go in the square holes. Stop jamming people into roles in which they won't ever become fulfilled or excel. This focus on having employees find fulfillment will have a dramatic impact on your own leadership, on the company, and most of all on the employees.
Will you try this approach? If you do, let me know how it goes.