Diversity and inclusion are key attributes to any high-performing team. Yet when a diverse group of people comes together, they fail to really connect with people ‘who aren’t like me’ and work collaboratively towards a common goal. 


A lot of this is down to lack of empathy: our ability to put ourselves in the shoes of others and to understand what another person is experiencing. When someone has had a completely different upbringing or set of experiences than our own, how can we adequately respond to their views, and how can we even listen effectively?


Diversity isn’t just a matter of ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation; it’s also about a group of individuals who have worked in different sectors, lived, or worked in multiple countries – bringing with them different experiences and viewpoints. 


Yet all these diverse experiences can actually work powerfully together when harnessed in the right way by the right leader. Here are some practical ways to unlock the power and potential within diverse teams: 


Establish a common purpose

Your team needs to be working towards a common goal and purpose, using individual team members’ skills to achieve that. 


Ask yourself: “What is the one thing this team can accomplish together?” 


When team members are given a task, encourage the use of open ended prompts such as “Is this what we should be doing?” and “Is there a more efficient way to do this?” to encourage creative thinking and inspire new and efficient processes. 


When we shift individual performance metrics towards achieving a shared goal, your team will experience a much higher level of collaboration and productivity. 


Set and maintain clear processes

Work processes are what holds everything together to ensure that tasks are completed in a way that’s systematic and organized. It makes it easier for other people to step in last minute and cover responsibilities because they simply follow the process that’s already been set. 


Every process should be recorded in a central place that’s easily understood by everyone (regardless of their skill, language, or level of experience) and is accessible for your team – wherever they are working from. As a leader, your role is to ensure everyone is following the processes and to make sure they are optimized for the best possible outcomes. 


Establish boundaries

One of the most important skills in any relationship is the ability to create and maintain healthy boundaries. Without boundaries, misunderstandings can easily occur which can cause frustration and resentments within the team.


Your team will have differing values, needs, and beliefs, so by establishing clear boundaries, you can prevent negative reactions and foster more productive work environments. 


Create passion 

The final secret to unlocking your team’s power is to create passion with your people. 

I’ve worked with teams who, when they join the company, are passionate, but eventually the honeymoon period ends and the fire goes out.  


Here are some practical ways to keep your employees’ passion alive: 

  • Encourage face-to-face collaboration where possible. Everyone will get bored if everything is on email.  Passionate people need to talk together, where information can be freely shared. 
  • Hold people accountable. When someone has an idea, hold them accountable to achieve it and make it a reality. Look at what systems or processes they need to make that idea happen. 
  • Share knowledge. High-performing teams are hungry learners, so make sure everyone has a platform to share experiences and ideas in an open, non-judgemental way. 
  • Get to know each other. Genuinely listen to what’s important to them and take a personal interest in their professional growth and development.


I will be talking more on the subject of ‘Keys to Unlocking Human Potential and Making Organizations Thrive” on November 1st at the Women Future Conference, held virtually. 


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