All I Really Needed to Know I Learned at Work

Around the board table, each leader brings a point of view rooted in subcultures he or she belongs to. Subcultures of sex, race, age, and nationality are often recognized. The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator can help a group to acknowledge and “normalize” such differences. We have barely yet begun to see how powerful our occupational subcultures have become. Each person around the table has learned at work how to behave in groups. Those learnings came with powerful rewards and punishments and exert great power, especially when they go unrecognized.

I didn’t know that as a young minister, but now I do. As a consultant I often ask, “What is your work?” At first I expected some resistance. What I often find instead is that my question opens up a rich exchange about strong and different convictions about how groups get things done, and how that kind of diversity might be a good thing.

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