Diversity as the defining feature of a high performing team?


Diversity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was recently making  a program outline for an organization, on how to create a high performing team; and though the program definitely had all the ingredients that are obvious from a positive psychology perspective, I also found myself leaning more and more on utilizing the lens of diversity and making the team (and the managers) understand the importance and utility of having people with diverse skills/ personality etc in the team.

To take an example, our previous series of posts on leadership have identified the 4 dimensions of leadership- the hands, heart, head, voice model – and how some leaders may lean more towards one way rather than the other.

Of course a leader may be unidimensional, but for team like the top management team (TMT) of an organization to lean heavily on say cerebral and ‘head’ style to the exclusion of say execution or ‘hands; style may lead to disastrous consequences. Thus, we would expect the TMT to be comprised of individuals such that the lack of ‘voice’ skills / aptitude in one leader is made up by the abundance of such skill/ talents in the complimentary leaders.

This is just one example of  inter-individual diversity that is good to have.

I was pleasantly surprised when I recently started the MOOC  ‘Leading Teams’ on Coursera offered by University of Michigan. I had already completed the MOOC ‘Inspiring and motivating Individuals’ by the same professors so was expecting some good stuff this time too nd  found another convergence.

The first week of the MOOC Scott deRue places a major emphasis on all kinds of diversity – from demographic diversity to personality or ability based diversity (which he calls deep diversity) and how surface diversity is no good or may even be harmful while deep diversity correlates positively with various team performance measures. Values based diversity presents a more nuanced picture.

Anyway, it felt great to see that others are also placing great emphasis on diversity and how that can be leveraged for excellence.

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