Adrian Saville believes that when someone has found their purpose in life, they will flourish. This statement is very true when looking at all that he has achieved. He graduated from the University of KwaZulu-Natal with a PhD in economics.
To flourish, one must look at the external and internal challenges that one faces, for him the external challenge was that he could not find a working environment that supported his ideas. He instead opted for creating his own business where he could put his mindset and ideas to good use. That is where Adrian started to flourish, and now he is an Investment Specialist with multi-family investment office, Genera Capital, and Professor of Economics and Finance at the Gordon Institute of Business Science. His teaching has a strong focus on behaviour and the importance of diversity within companies.
For a business to flourish, they need to look at internal challenges and solve them to ensure that they create a sense of belonging to their team members. This burden also lies with the leaders of each team, but when teams work well together, their diversity can lead to success.
Relationship building within businesses isn’t just about building associations or developing networks; it runs much deeper. Adrian believes that for a business to strive, it needs to have a diverse team with a challenger mindset, openness to learning and agility. Businesses that have leaders that are aware of the stresses that their team goes through have a higher chance of survival, explains Adrian, especially in times like these. Businesses where people have a sense of belonging will naturally be innovative and problem solvers. These businesses are going to be constructive, they’re going to be contributors, and the business might measure that as productivity and profits.
He uses the classical PEE principle in class, Points, Evidence, and Explanation. What makes it fun and engaging is that the evidence is provided by in-class social experiments. One being what he calls the marshmallow challenge, where students are split into teams and have 20 minutes to build a tower with spaghetti and balance a marshmallow on top. Statistically teams who succeed are usually those who are more diverse.
It is therefore important that if a business wants to succeed, it must comprise a diverse and inclusive team. When a team has many influences, from different cultures, ethnicities, beliefs, and backgrounds, they can perform better. These relationships bring more ideas to the table that can be executed in more than one way which builds opportunity and optionality.
He speaks about how easily we as human beings can become polarised. An exercise he likes to do to prove this point is by dividing the class up based on their birthdays. Even numbers on the one side and odd numbers on the other. He tells them to then make assumptions about the opposite group. Quickly these two groups turn against each other, purely based on the other group being different – although the birthdate demarcation is entirely arbitrary, it proves to be divisive. This is just one small example of how we are shaped – and how we can reshape.
These are the things we need to look out for when building relationships within the workplace and setting up business models. A business cannot exist without a diverse set of ideas. There is always a sense of belonging and community that is needed to ensure that a team prospers.
Go listen to the full conversation that Eksteen de Waal had with Adrian Saville and see why diversity is important when it comes to leadership and relationships.