Team Diversity or Team Synergy?

Teams have been facing massive disruptions for some time now. With previous focus on team synergy and recent discussions about team diversity, where does it leave leaders? What should you be focusing on and how should you structure your team to improve its effectiveness? Because at the end of the day, it’s the effectiveness that will make the difference. If your team can’t produce the results, it won’t move your business or organization forward. You might as well just close the door today and save yourself a hassle.

Let’s look at both approaches today.

Team Diversity

I want to start with diversity, because it seems to be the talk in every company. According to multiple sources, team diversity is the significant uniqueness of each individual on a team. Team diversity can be…

  • demographic – gender, age, ethnicity
  • functional – different functional backgrounds, skills and abilities
  • personality – personality traits like extraversion vs. introversion, beliefs, preferences, opinions, motivation

This is where most people who focus on diversity stop, but I’d like to add one more aspect of diversity.

  • conative – actionable approaches, problem solving, creative approaches

Having diversity on a team can be challenging especially when it comes to facing stereotypes, prejudices, establishing communication rules, etiquette and managing conflicting working styles. Managing diverse team requires strong leadership and creativity.

This being said, diversity has also great benefits. A 2015 McKinsey report on 366 public companies found that those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean, and those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have returns above the industry mean. Contrary, companies in the bottom quartile both for gender and for ethnicity and race are statistically less likely to achieve above-average financial returns than the average companies in the data set.

I strongly believe that world is more beautiful when full of colors. It might be easier to manage a team when everyone looks the same and thinks the same, but incredible things happen when the same old is disrupted by different thinking or experiences. It’s time for leaders to embrace diversity and start enjoying the beauty of disruption and improvements it creates.

But before you jump into building diverse teams, there’s one more aspect to keep in mind…

Team Synergy

Diversity will never work without team synergy. Synergy is defined as working together, but it is actually way more than that. Team synergy is a term that describes uniqueness off the team. Each team is comprised of individuals with unique strengths, talents, experiences and work styles. How they work together will depend on each individual’s contribution to the team effort.

Team synergy needs the following key components in order to work.

  • Common values – common values like integrity, honesty and humility build trust environment which is a foundation of healthy teams
  • Common purpose – truly synergistic teams have common purpose, shared vision and they understand and leverage the power of teamwork
  • Complementary talent –  having complementary talent is a necessity for great teamwork. It enables creativity, innovation and productivity.

Without the above teams end up with conflict and miscommunication, pulling in different directions, putting off fires and spinning the wheels without meeting their objectives on time and on promise.

It’s essential that as a leader you look beyond the skin color, age, gender, background, beliefs, or work style and leverage the power of team diversity in combination with synergy. But it’s also important to keep in mind that diversity has its limits. Teams that need to work together must have synergy to be effective in their efforts.

Building diverse teams that have strong synergy will require you to improve your leadership, communication and team management skills, but at the end of the day, it is always easier to impact the outcome when you are in charge of the input. And personal development definitely falls into this category. You can start here with our complimentary Leadership Breakthrough training.

To learn more about diversity and how to manage it as a leader, join us in Impact Academy where we discuss this topic in depth.

Inspire someone today...