At the dawn of Renaissance, the concept of the individual began to emerge across western society. Jacob Burckhardt , the great historian of the Renaissance in his book “la civiltà del rinascimento in Italia”, (Renaissance civilization in Italy) provides us with a first modern definition of the would be “individual” : “ During the middle-ages the veil covering human souls was a cloth of faith, biases, ignorance and illusions…in so far as the human being was considered only as belonging to a race, a population, a party, a corporation, a family or any other forms of “community” . For the first time, it was Italy that has broken this veil and dictated the “objective” study of the State and other worldly things. This new way of considering reality aside, it further developed the “subjective” aspect, and man becomes “individual”, spiritual, assuming his new status’ consciousness.”(A. Forti, 2010). The concept of individuality states: “Every individual is born and endowed with a unique mind quality and content capable of producing independently from whatever humanity has seen”. No two individuals are the same in their mind quality and content.
Every individual is designed to develop his or her independent mind to the level of individualistic expressions. At the level of individuality, an individual becomes an independent thinker and producer. One who can express ideas, inventions, innovations, creations and discoveries no individual has ever exhibited (Bertnard, 2009). Individuality in terms of independent creativity and productivity is the true identity of an individual. Each individual was to be known and identified by the expression of his/her individuality. Thus, despite the 6.2 billion people in the world, everyone has his placement based on individuality. The concept of individuality or individual freedom is fundamental in determining human life in society for it underlies human thought and behavior. Individuality co-exists with social cohesion, which in turn is a basic component of human life in society. They constitute a dichotomy, without any essential opposites (Kigongo, 2009). As social factors, both concepts exist in the particular epoch of a peoples’ existence though in subtly differing relationships. In defining and examining the two concepts, I will try to divulge into a brief explanation from various authors.
Individuality may be referred to as metaphysical freedom. According to Bidney, (1963), this is the autonomous power of choice and decision of will as essential conditions for the exercise of other freedoms. Individuality is the essence of a human being, notwithstanding any form of constraint, control or influence; it is inherent in human nature and survives any form of external influence to one’s self or conscience. “An individual is a single thing, a being that is, or is regarded as, a unit. An individual is opposed to a crowd. Individual action is opposed to associate action. Individual interests are opposed to common or community interests.” These definitions give us some idea of the extent of individuality. Individuality is a particular or distinctive characteristic of an individual; “that quality or aggregate of qualities which distinguishes one person or thing from another, idiosyncrasy.” This indicates the content. For our purpose, we may define the study of individuality as a consideration of the individual as a unit with special characteristics.
That it is a unit signifies that it is one of many and that it has likeness to the many. That it has special characteristics shows that it is one of many, but different from the many. This consideration of individuality emphasizes both the common element and the diverging characteristics (Gilbreth, 2005). Social cohesion on the other hand is a state of affairs whereby individuals in the society consistently pursue certain fundamental virtues on the basis of enhancing a common or social good. The two concepts are dichotomous because individuality sometimes tends towards enhancement of the freedom that entails pursuit of egoistic or selfish interests, that is, negative individualism. On the other hand the social good tends to submerge such freedom. But both concepts are not essentially opposites or antagonistic because if individual freedom is rationally pursued, that is, pursued responsibly or with a sense of duty so as to safeguard the good or what is beneficial to others, it does not contradict the social good. At this level the individual is normatively free. Having known this concept and what social cohesion means, we will all agree that an organization is a platform for the actualization of social cohesion.
An organization brings together different people of varying “individuality” and wants them to work together for the progress of the organization. The task is now left for the manager to ensure there is cohesion between them and conflict and misunderstanding is reduced to the barest minimum but all work towards the progress and achievement of the aims and objectives of the organization. The fact of the reality of the common or social good and the willingness of the individual to subscribe to it implied a dialogue between the individual and the organisation. A person was not compelled to be a conformist to the social ethic but was expected to have a moral obligation to behave in a manner that would enhance the social ethic. This moral principle could be analogous to Kant’s categorical imperative, i.e., “Act as if the maxim of your action were to become through your will a general natural law.” (Bertrand, 1946) Hence any manager that want to achieve maximum productivity and cohesion must put in more effort to understand this concept and recognize the individuality of his workers and how to cope and assign duties and responsibilities to them.
Gilbreth, 2005, make this assertion in his book Psychology of Management that under Scientific Management individuality is considered in selecting workers as it could not be under either of the other two forms of management. This for several reasons: 1. The work is more specialized, hence requires more carefully selected men. 2. With standardized methods comes a knowledge to the managers of the qualifications of the “standard men” who can best do the work and continuously thrive. 3. Motion study, in its investigation of the worker, supplies a list of variations in workers that can be utilized in selecting men. The biggest challenge for a team manager therefore is to allow space for individual creativity while also keeping the objectives of team intact. A team comprise of many members with individual aspirations. Even though teams work for a common business objective, often team members would also like to exercise a certain individual control over their work. In many companies these days, the term “team member” has been replaced by “resource”
Thus recognition of the individuality concept of workers will help the manager in the following ways: 1.Allocation of responsibilities and duties: task that are energetic and demanding in nature should be given to choleric personalities. 2.Setting of goals/targets and time: a melancholy person who is apt to detail and takes his/her time in getting things done should not be given duties that have short deadlines. 3.Promotion and assigning of superior personnel: a phlegmatic should not be the number one priority to be chosen as a head when there are choleric or sanguine personalities. This is because a phlegmatic does not welcome change, they prefers stabilities. 4.Pairing and teaming of personnel: two choleric personnel cannot be in the same team, there will be commotion and disagreement because they will both want to dominate. Investigation shows that the successful manager, or foreman, or boss, or superintendent succeeds either because of his own individuality or because he brings out to good advantage the individual possibilities of his men.
A. Forti, 2010: History of the concept of the individual and individuality in Western society www.worldacademy.org/forum Benard Etta, 2009: The Concept of Individuality. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Dr_Benard_Etta Bertrand Russell, 1946: A History of Western Philosophy. London, George Allen and Unwin, p. 683. David Bidney (ed.), 1963: The Concept of Freedom in Anthropology. The Hague, Mouton, pp. 12-13. J.K. Kigongo, 2009: The Concepts of Individuality and Social Cohesion A Perversion Of Two African Cultural Realities L. M. Gilbreth, 2005: The Psychology of Management. The Function of the Mind in Determining, Teaching and Installing Methods of Least Waste. Release Date: July 10, 2005 [EBook #16256].