Team Diversity: The New Trend in Leadership

In present day, teamwork and diversity are like Siamese twins joined at the hip. Team diversity can be divided into functional attributes which encompass knowledge, skills connected with the work environment or task at hand and previous work experience. Diversity can also be in terms of personal attributes such as cultures, attitudes, personality, demographics like age, race and gender. All these attributes if well inter-twined, can result in a very successful team. On the other hand, if a team leader is not able to mesh them in an appropriate manner, it could result in disaster, substandard work if not total failure not only of the leader but of the entire team. Manix and Neale ask the question, “Why is the reality of diversity less than the promise?” and my answer is that a good and effective leader should be able to identify the different attributes of his or her team and maximise them in the most effective way possible in order to realise the promise of a successful team.

The business environment is constantly changing and team/group diversity is becoming very vital in order to achieve the desired goals and objectives. Leaders are now constantly searching for new and innovative ways in which to increase efficiency and performance in their organisations.  A good and effective leader can achieve team and organisational success by being able to analyse and understand all his/her team member. He/she should be able to create a team that comprises of people of different traits, personalities, expertise, cultures and educational backgrounds and at the same time be able to mesh all these characteristics in a way that will make the team achieve its goals.  To make a diverse team a successful team, one should carry out a SWOT analysis on the various team members and establish the strengths that can be used to achieve the desired outcome and also establish the weaknesses of the team members and establish ways in which to improve them or eliminate them (Yeager and Nafukho 2011). An effective team leader will also encourage the various team members to share their opinions and ideas and encourage them to support each other and borrow a leaf from each other for the betterment of the team. This is because diversity and collaboration are what makes a good team.  As Holtzman and Anderberg would put it, “Great minds don’t think alike”.

Apple is one organisation that under the reign of Steve Jobs operated with very diverse people who had the same goal of creating a product that would be ideal to the customer in every shape and form. Steve Jobs believed in people sharing ideas and brain storming so as to come up with the perfect product. Steve Jobs was a leader who ran his company through collaboration and ideas and not hierarchy.  This allowed different people with different backgrounds and imaginations cultivate their creativity and bring it to life which resulted in one of the most successful companies in the world.

apple_logo

In the oil and gas industry, it is important to create teams that are diverse as it will facilitate the understanding of the various operations of the industry in different part of the world. Diversity will also facilitate innovation in terms of new ways of exploration, company management and development as well.

Team diversity is important in any organisation. A company is likely to gain more and improve efficiency if it comprises of different people with different backgrounds.  Through collaboration and working with other external team, a company will be able to maximise on the available resources, achieve a competitive advantage as well as increase profitability and improve the overall long-term survival of a company.

References

Holtzman, Y., Anderberg, J.,(2011) ‘Diversify your teams and collaborate: because great minds don’t think alike’ Journal of Management Development [online] 30 (1), 75-92. Available from:           <www.emeraldinsight.com/0262-1711.htm> [23May 2013]

Mannix, E., Neale, M.A., (2005) ‘What Differences Make a Difference?:The Promise and Reality of Diverse Teams in Organizations’ Psychological Science in the Public Interest  6 (2) 31-55

 Yeager, K. L., Nafukho, M. F., (2012) ‘Developing diverse teams to improve performance in the organizational setting’ European Journal of Training and Development [online] 36 (4), 388-40 available from <www.emeraldinsight.com/2046-9012.htm > [23 May 2013]

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5 responses to “Team Diversity: The New Trend in Leadership

  1. I concur that diversity is the way forward. In addition team building results in synergy, hence saving time. Also embracing diversity enables team members to not only learn from each other, but also creates a free team spirit, and self-confidence. However, i think that another challenge with the leader will be to face is resistance from team members, where a team comprises of members with different cultures and age and they refuse to work together.

    • Thank you for your comments. It is true that there may be resistance and difficulty in leading diverse team so we need to establish an appropriate way of change introduction as well as conflict resolution in such teams.

  2. In this day and age, it would be impossible for a company to thrive without the benefits brought about by diversity. I agree with your notion that the management of a company cannot operate as a hierarchy because it surely hinders its prosperity. I recently took a Principles of Management course and agree that in a diverse workplace, a SWOT analysis must be taken in order to understand where and where not a company is successful. Another great way for companies to be successful is to have leaders that manage by objective. In other words, they set objectives/goals with their own workers and later evaluate what worked and did not work. This empowers employees and makes them feel like they have a say in what goes on at the higher level. Finally, as mentioned by sheba, there is the inevitable case of whether or not co-workers will work well together due to their differences in beliefs.

  3. I experience this everyday in my company : I second your quote”a good and effective leader should be able to identify the different attributes of his or her team and maximise them in the most effective way possible in order to realise the promise of a successful team.” We are currently doing a SWOT analysis to assist in team and product success. Well thought article.

  4. I agree that diversity is a great way to go especially now as the world is a global village. And more so the emphasis to team members on board, to acknowledge and appreciate different backgrounds. I believe a wise and prudent leader can pull it off but above all this, a God fearing person, wise in Gods way can do an even excellent delivery to the company.

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