5 Tips to Successfully Lead Diverse Teams
Patrick Nelson, December 7, 2015
We all work in environments where there are a lot of differences – even when on the surface it doesn’t appear that way. As a leader, how do you respond to this? Do you ignore it, accept it, or embrace it? The latter action allows you to use diversity as a performance driver.
Here are five tips that help you leverage the diversity of your team.
- Self-Reflection. Understand your feelings about diversity. Do you appreciate the differences among your team members? Do you recognize the value? By recognizing your own opinions, you are better prepared to approach this topic with an open mind
- Develop Rapport. The only way you can appreciate others’ talents is to get to know them. As a leader, invest time in learning about your team. Spend time asking your team members about their background, their educational experiences, their family environment, and what motivates them. These questions will help you find your common ground, as well as understand what makes you different.
- Build the 5-Minute Check-In Habit. All your conversations with your team members shouldn’t be task-related. Check-in periodically to see how your team members are doing and what you can do to help them. When people feel they’re cared about, they’ll feel their contributions matter. This helps them unleash their thoughts, opinions and – eventually – talents with their team.
- Encourage Diversity of Thought. Many leaders fail because they look at their teams and expect everyone to think and act as they do. Encourage productive confrontation by challenging your team members to think outside of the box. Create a comfortable environment during meetings for others to speak up by first asking for their opinions and then encouraging them to continue to share their thoughts.
- Team Building Activities. Take time away from work with your team and do something different. Ask for suggestions on what they would like to do. You could have a mini-golf competition, go paintballing, have a chili cook off, schedule days during the week to volunteer together at charitable organizations, etc.
Start putting these 5 tips into practice today with your team. The sooner you create the environment for diversity to thrive, the sooner your team members will achieve better results together.