One of the keys to developing peak performing teams is to ensure that people on the team think and operate differently.
By think, I mean how we process information. For example, in my leadership role at ACHIEVE and CTRI, I am a very intuitive thinker, whereas one of our other leaders is a more logical thinker. Because of our different ways of thinking, this has allowed us to more easily navigate obstacles.
By operate, I mean the various skill sets people bring to their roles. For example, in our organization, to provide our services effectively, we need people who can write and speak well, but we also need other people who are skilled with technology. While writing and speaking is core to the services we provide, without expertise in the technical aspects we wouldn’t be nearly as effective.
I have learned that the more diversity we have in how people think and operate, the more innovative and productive we are. When teams working on projects struggle to get going, or even fail, it is very rarely any individual’s fault. Rather, it’s because there was not enough diversity amongst the team. The team was missing the right mix of individuals to propel the project forward. It may mean there were too many of the same types of people on the team and group-think set in. Or, perhaps the team was missing one specific skill set.
Like many things related to creating thriving organizations, building diversified teams is an intentional and focused process. Without this specific focus on diversification, we tend to bring new people into our teams who are just like us. While we work to hire people who fit our culture and who are not disruptive to the positive things about it, we need to be careful not to simply surround ourselves with people identical to us.
At the leadership level, diversification is particularly important. I am keenly aware of my weaknesses and have hired other leaders within our organization with those weaknesses in mind. Sometimes this leads to strong differences of opinions in how we approach certain issues and decisions. While it may have been easier for me to hire people who simply agree with me, in the long run that is a recipe for disaster. It is the diversity in how each of us think and operate that is our key core strength, and we continue to perform at a high level because of it.