Encourage Diversity and Self-Expression at Work

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Trillion Dollar Coach" by Bill Campbell. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Are you trying to encourage diversity at work? How can diversity and self-expression enhance the quality of your team’s work?

It’s important to encourage diversity in the workplace. Bill Campbell’s management philosophy emphasizes the importance of both diversity and self-expression.

Read on to learn more about how to encourage diversity in the workplace.

Encourage Diversity and Self-Expression

The principle: People are most effective when they can be completely themselves and bring their full identity to work. Campbell was not a tech wizard, and he didn’t have a bunch of fancy engineering degrees. He claimed that he “didn’t even know how to do HTML.” He earned his reputation by being exactly who he was—an ex-football player and coach with superior people skills and valuable experience running companies (and a habit of swearing a lot and hugging people). He didn’t fit the Silicon Valley mold, but it didn’t matter. 

Campbell believed that when you’re not being yourself, people know it, and that creates mistrust. He encouraged people to bring their full, transparent selves to the workplace. And he instructed CEOs and managers to avoid making their employees conform to dominant norms. Unique personalities play a critical role in the workplace. People from different backgrounds and walks of life create valuable diversity, which makes teams more interesting and productive and can deflect the dangerous effects of “groupthink.”

For Campbell, you have to encourage diversity with the sexes as well. When he helped companies with hiring and team-building, he always made sure the teams were staffed with women as well as men. The tech industry is notoriously male-dominated, and Campbell believed that having more women in the mix would lead to better decision-making.  

Example: Campbell coached David Drummond, Alphabet’s head of corporate development and legal affairs, who is Black. Drummond said that being Black in Silicon Valley made him feel uncomfortably self-conscious—he was noticeably different from most everybody else. But Campbell encouraged Drummond to be proud of his identity, to make it his source of motivation and strength rather than diminish it in an attempt to conform. He told Drummond that people would respect him for being who he was, not for trying to be someone else.

Encourage Diversity and Self-Expression at Work

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  • How Bill Campbell went from football coach to tech coach
  • The 4 pillars of Campbell's leadership philosophy
  • How the King Arthur Round Table model for making decisions empowers employees

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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