The diversity dividend

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Diversity can help a team to achieve its best possible performance – in football as well as at work

In my last column, I talked about Otto Rehagel and Florian Kohfeldt to make a point about management today and in the past. I noted that while of course things have changed and developed over time, there are a few principles that still apply. One of these is to focus on the people!

If you look at teams themselves, nowadays they are also made up differently. Back in the nineties, our team was sill pretty homogenous in terms of nationality and language. Wynton Rufer and Rune Bratseth were the only players from abroad and everyone spoke German together. Now, that has changed. We currently have 13 different nationalities on the team and Florian Kohfeldt speaks a lot of English with the team, though we still make sure that all players learn German!

The team’s new diversity does not always make it easier to manage – claiming otherwise denies the reality on the ground. Nevertheless, I believe that if a team manages to integrate many different kinds of people, ways of thinking and nationalities, it can really benefit and perform far better than a homogenous team which hasn’t faced any of these challenges. Creativity and performance can benefit from diversity and friction, if this diversity is shaped by shared values, goals and rules. The world is colourful and so are the best teams, in football and beyond!



The world is colourful and so are the best teams, in football and beyond!

Marco Bode, head of the SV Werder Bremen Supervisory Board and European football champion

If we look at today’s companies, we can also find many analogies with football. Many companies are also diverse and here, too, it doesn’t automatically mean everything is better just because it is mixed! Nowadays, diversity is more and more seen as an opportunity, although it is also still often viewed as a problem.

If everyone keeps the same strategy in mind, and everyone pursues the same tactics – even if they sometimes disagree on these – then a diverse team can succeed. Sometimes, in football, it matters less what tactic you play than everyone sticking to the same tactics, no matter what they are!

Then it can truly mean that differences are a real gain!

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