5 for 5 blog – Infusing diversity

10 Apr

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There is a lot of talk right now about the value of diversity within teams. Diverse thinking, diverse experience, diverse gender, diverse geography…….

If you are building a team or reorganizing the value of infusing diversity impacts morale, innovation, and productivity. If on the other hand you have an existing team, the great challenge is how to infuse the diversity that is spoken of so richly.

Sadly in many organizations, diverse thinking is openly deterred. Whether it is a focus on the short term or the ever growing stretch goals, diversity, while needed, is avoided for security. It is safe to hire people with similar backgrounds as your current team. It is safe to focus on projects that have near 100% assurance of adoption. It is safe to change slowly and reach consensus to roll it out to other groups.

If you want to enable diversity of thought and ultimately breaking away from status quo consider the following:

Align on purpose

On this blog we talk a lot about purpose. Goals need to be bigger than the team itself and certainly should be a unifying focal point. Specifically, aligning on purpose is even more important when trying to introduce diverse thinking to a team focused on homeostasis, but one that needs the creative prompts of diversity. Too often, the existing team may take a defensive posture rather than opening possibilities. It is the job of the leader to share a purpose that allows the existing team to first embrace and see the big opportunities and even welcome the bright minds that have been brought into compliment the project. By the way, the leader need to walk the talk here. Duplicity around the purpose will be seen a mile away and will shut down the effort of the new team.

Create margin

Many leaders and individuals that want to drive change often get stymied on the fact that “things are tight”. Budgets are tight. Goals are too close. There are lots of excuse that enflame risk, but if you are looking to enable diversity, enable change, and you are willing to build around a great purpose, as just mentioned, we have to put our money where our mouth is and give the team room, time, budget to try. Don’t get me wrong, I am huge believer in constraints as a catalyst, but at a minimum creating margin or space diffusing “risk” or concerns to help the team focus on the purpose at hand.

Promote “immersive exchange”

In a world of slack, We Chat, and Whats App, there is still nothing quite equal to literally picking someone up and having them do their role in another part of the world. I am fortunate to work in a large multinational company and we are pushing this opportunity of having people from different regions do their work and shadow their colleagues in other countries for one, two or even three weeks. While this may sound like a no-brainer, it often doesn’t happen with the pure intent of creating the immersive experience. Instead we try to fit in the learning and sharing around visits and actions with return on the investment of the travel. Or like many things we don’t see how it can fit in our budget plan versus just doing it and then managing the other aspects of the budget to catch up. Oh and if you don’t have multiple global offices to visit, pick up your laptop and park yourself in the midst of another department you are interested in working closer with……..

I am not here to say I have this perfected. I wish I did. Every team and every project is unique. But with empathy, a leader can truly help everyone involved see the potential if they are willing to drop their own guard and embrace what “could be” from the team.

 

Here are this week’s 5 for 5 articles:

The Power of Shared Purpose – by Brad Stulberg

How Self-Reflection Can Make You a Better Leader – by Dylan Walsh

One Behavior Separates The Successful From The Average – by Benjamin Hardy

Idea-off – by Mike Nicholson

Who You Are Is How You Lead – by Jesse Sostrin

 

All the best, kevin