Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Building a Diverse Team-A Tipsheet

Today I'll concentrate on "above the water line"issues when building a diverse team.  I've got five things I consider.  First, where's the business?  By that I mean physical geography.  You need members of your leadership team from your business "centers of gravity".  Second, what is the business?  You need leaders who are deeply proficient in the business....competent and knowledgeable.  Staff will follow leaders who demonstrate they know what they are doing..  Third, get a wide range of work experiences among those you select.  If everyone on the team has had similar work experiences they are more likely to approach problems in a similar way.  Fourth, select both men and women.  My experience is not exactly "Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars" but I do believe men and women often think differently about the same challenge. The variety of thinking is what I'm after when I pick a team.  Last, pick complementary personalities.  I'm not suggesting you use Meyers-Briggs or any other instrument as a screening technique...just use your background, experience and intuition to pick a mix of personalities.  Great teams are not characterized by a lack of conflict.
It's relatively rare to be able to pick a new team from scratch, so often  you will be making individual selections to replace departing team members.  It's also rare that you can satisfy all five dimensions I've outlined when picking a team; you'll need to make trade offs.  If in the in final analysis, you end up with a gap...a geography not covered, a single gender team, a shortfall in business's important to make that gap visible to the team.  Then the group can be conscious of their vulnerability to risks inherent to their team's thinking....and develop means to pause, reflect and adjust if necessary.

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