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Unlock the Full Potential of Diverse Teams

According to PwC consultants Reid Carpenter and Marvin Mendoza, diversity and inclusion are important attributes for high-functioning businesses. Diversity can be defined simply as difference (not only identity-related but also differences in knowledge, perspective, and experience), and inclusion is the ability to embrace differences. Several recent studies have shown that diverse and inclusive operations tend to be more innovative, generate better ideas, and capture new markets.

Highlights from the Article

Effective teams play an important role in creating workplace environments that celebrate diversity and foster inclusion. These teams share several key attributes: a common purpose, complementary skills, shared leadership roles, shared performance goals, and mutual accountability.

Common Purpose

The first attribute of effective teaming is fairly straightforward but commonly overlooked. By answering the question “What is the one thing this and only this team can accomplish together?” the group gains clarity around their shared work and goals.

Complementary Skills

Successful teams consider how to use the diversity of thought and experience of each member to solve problems. They choose members for their relevant and complimentary skills, not for their positions in an organizational hierarchy which gives them the right mix of technical/functional expertise, as well as problem-solving, decision-making, and interpersonal skills.

Shared Leadership

On the most effective teams, leadership can easily shift from one member to another depending on the situation. The shared leadership model encourages inclusion by making a habit out of recognizing when specific knowledge, skills, or experience is most needed and valuable for leading. It also ensures that no one voice or perspective dominates the team.

Shared Performance Goals and Mutual Accountability

Committing to both shared performance goals and mutual accountability means that every team member owns responsibility for the success or failure of the team, encourages emotional commitment by each team member, and motivates every individual to participate fully. On a team with mutual accountability, everyone shares the responsibility to make sure the best ideas are heard. If one part of a team feels more ownership of the team’s potential success or failure, they may also feel that it is acceptable to silence contrasting or controversial ideas. Knowing that everyone will fail together, without singular blame, can also encourage team members with unique ideas to feel safe to voice them.

The Gifted Perspective

When new teams first come together or when existing teams run into a few “bumps in the road” and want to elevate their effectiveness, it’s critically important for them to engage in a collective dialogue about their common purpose, how they will embrace differences and distribute leadership as well as how they will share accountability and measure progress toward their goals.

As noted in this s+b article (as has we’ve observed time and time again in our team coaching engagements), the “social contract” that results forms the basis for operating well as a team and for creating a safe space that allows people to bring their whole selves to work. When people feel safe and are encouraged to share their ideas and personal perspectives in a team setting, that team will be better able to unlock the potential of its diverse team members.

We can equip you to build an extraordinary team. Contact us today about individual leadership coaching or our Teams That Talk™ coaching approach!


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