With good leadership, diverse teams set the stage for unforeseen growth and profitability.
I internalized a deep appreciation for diversity when I got involved with the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI) at Buffalo State College during grad school. NCBI is rooted in an understanding of individual, community, and systemic change. NCBI leaders work with public and private organizations to further:
- Cultural competence
- Collaboration and partnerships
- Effective relationships within and across group identities
Diversity appreciation helped me build bridges to learn from and connect with people in every aspect of my life.
Before having this appreciation, I was just like you. I heard dozens of brilliant people say “hire the brightest people to fill skill and knowledge gaps in your organization”.
Yet, everyone looked and acted the looked the same. Over the years I rarely saw this diverse team. More often I find layered management with bureaucracy and biased hiring practices. ‘Good ol boy’ networks and offices run like frat houses. Head count metrics trumping the best hiring decisions. And worst of all, narcissistic managers who are threatened and insecure by others performance.
What can a diverse team do for your business?
Imagine this: It’s 8 am Monday morning. Several small teams are in virtual break out rooms collaborating and trouble shooting progress from the past week. At 9 am all global team members are online for a quick kick off . Cross functional leadership drives challenging questions, propose action items and refocus’ the groups attention on desired outcomes. Delegation of tasks seem effortless as people volunteer and offer suggestions. Engaged employees drive project execution throughout the day. User feedback is analyzed weekly to make informed improvements. Team members high five, showing customers appreciation and being proud of “kick ass” work! The office often caters lunch on Fridays to recognize goal achievement.
*When you get employee buy-in, you can quickly establish a routine and a culture that boosts team productivity exponentially.
I didn’t take full ownership until I experienced the benefits of a diverse team first hand. A diverse team of hard working, cross functional professionals can knock down walls, open doors, and help every member of their tribe grow with a multiplier effect.
Challenge to Consider: Group Think takes effect almost immediately in group settings. Group Think occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.
Solution: Collect feedback and coach team members during 1 on 1’s. Share agenda before group meetings. Set clear expectations for each persons contribution. Frame and reinforce clear outcomes.
In my humble opinion, I owe much of my success to the diverse group of friends and colleagues that have helped me stretch my mind and my heart to appreciate people and spot opportunity with no boundaries.
How to start building a diverse team:
- Get outside your comfort zone. Explore new cultures, markets, and skills. Stretch your mind and seek new adventures
- Commit to lifelong learning. Learn from everyone, be curious, open minded and genuine
- Be helpful and likable, and you will soon be a connector with a large network
- Seek out experts, mentors, and advisers that you respect
- Seek out meaningful experience that let people see your work
Leave your comment below: What is your experience with diverse teams?
I love my readers to share and engage in the conversation. Others connect with your comments. Share one of your lessons — good, bad, ugly, or an a-ha moment.
Michael Spence has been a student of self-help and professional development since first reading “The One Minute Manager,” back in 1995.” Serving as a father, teacher, professor, coach, sales leader, and entrepreneur, Michael shares his knowledge and experiences to help others succeed and collaborate with like minded people.