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Last Updated on November 11, 2018

6 People Management Tactics to Lead a Diverse Team to Success

6 People Management Tactics to Lead a Diverse Team to Success

There is a wide body of evidence indicating that diverse teams perform better than homogeneous ones. Diverse teams in your organization will too.

Leading a diverse team is an art that can be learned. It does take some time to bring everybody on board for a vision but having good people management skills can accelerate the process considerably.

It’s in the leader’s best interest to have its team working to capacity and moving in the same direction in order to get things done effectively and efficiently.

In this article, I will share with you why working with diverse teams can be challenging and how to lead a diverse team to go for the same goal.

Why Is It Hard to Lead a Diverse Team?

Unfamiliarity with shared governance principles

It is very difficult for a leader to lead a diverse team to go for the same goal without taking a shared governance approach. The principles of equity, partnership, accountability and ownership must be applied and embraced in order for the diverse team to operate to capacity and have “buy in.”

Equity, or the understructure and mensuration of value states that no role is in essence more important than any other. Partnership is paramount in relationship building and serves as the justification for involving diverse team members in decision making.

Allowing for evaluation of role performance between and among the members of the team is key in the process along with ownership structures that allow for the acceptance, contribution and recognition by all parties involved. Diverse teams are diverse in nature and expect the former in order to operate to capacity.

“The whole is more important than the sum of the parts.” Leaders must understand that no living system, like a corporate unit or any other unit, can function to capacity — or “go for the same goal” if its parts aren’t operating in harmony. Lack of systemic thinking will eventually result in entropy.

Leading diverse teams to be “on the same page” is challenging because leaders working with a “homogeneous” mindset are rarely equipped with the former concepts presented in this section. Stakeholder participation is key.

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Little diversity understanding

Diversity means variety and/or a range of different things. Leading a diverse team to reach the same organizational goal can be challenging because leaders may not know what this “variety” and “range of different things” actually are.

Let’s start with the obvious. If a team is composed of ten white males, one female and no Latino males/ females, ethnic variety is lacking in the unit. A leader’s failing to understand that the former is a problem, as well as the fact that the ratio of employees within his or her unit is unbalanced — there are too many while males in proportion to everybody else — can and probably will have long-term consequences relating to “goal buy in,” especially if the unit’s leader isn’t sensitive to group diversity.

To make things more complicated, diversity of gender and thinking are real challenges that the leader may face for lacking adequate understanding of diversity. In the popular book, “Men are from Mars and Women Are from Venus ”, some of us have learned that we (men and women) motivate, speak, argue, and communicate feelings differently. In the book, it is written that men like to process info by thinking before communicating whereas women like to process info by communicating their thought process.

Ethnic minorities can behave differently and possess a range of different things. Italians tend to be impulsive, Hispanic Americans tend to be emotional, the Japanese are collectivist, the British individualist, Vietnamese are reactive, Malaysians tend to compromise… Being the leader of a diverse team is more labor intensive!

In addition, most people like to associate themselves with people who are like them and who are familiar with what they believe in. No wonder why leaders have so little understanding of diversity in the workforce today. This makes leaders’ jobs more challenging when driving teams to be on the same page about projects.

Unfortunately, lack of diversity understanding doesn’t help organizations to be more productive. There is overwhelming scientific evidence indicating that diverse teams make fewer errors than homogeneous ones and when errors do occur, diverse teams are more likely to solve them.

Resistance to change

Most people like the familiar. No wonder why 1 out of 2 freshmen attend a college within 100 miles from home. The irony of resistance and change is that implementing change is in the leader’s job description!

Leaders should embrace change rather than resisting it yet resistance to change is real and occurs in every continent across the globe. That’s why leading diverse teams to move in the same direction as the leader when the leader is afraid to change can be so challenging. Tolerance for change varies among leaders.

As I said already in this article, we are creatures of habit. Loss of control, breaking the routine, fear of the unknown and elements of surprise are all reasons why leaders fear change. There is however, a direct correlation between one’s ability to lead and their easiness with these former reasons why leaders resist change.[1]

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Change isn’t always technical and can be social. Social change is important but is difficult for many leaders, making things more complicated for the leader to have his or her people on board on a project. I wish that people management was like chopsticks. Always useful and unchangeable.

Unfortunately, people management is an evolving science and requires leaders to adapt to new societal trends with much more frequency.

As a side note: Henry Petrosky, Duke University professor and the author of the book The Evolution of Useful Things predicts chopsticks to stay as they are for another millennia. Thank goodness that leaders aren’t chopsticks.

6 Powerful People Management Tactics

When thinking about revising your company’s training and development program or simply offering good informal training to employees at your organization, consider adopting the following tactics on how to lead a diverse team to go for the same goal.

1. Understand first… judge second

Before making any judgement, strive to understand the members of your team. What are their likes and dislikes? What makes them feel comfortable or uncomfortable? What makes them feel good or bad?

Listening to what they have to say as well as being empathic to what they may be feeling could be the difference between you getting them on board or not.

Remember: Leaders must be patient in order to first understand then judge. Patience is a virtue.

2. Ability to relate

If a leader can’t relate with his or her team somehow, they won’t be able to influence them.

Failing to influence the members of the group will exponentially decreases the leader’s chances of having diverse team members on his or her side.

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If a leader has a group of African Americans on staff, it may be a good idea to find out who Margaret Walker, Medgar Evers, Booker T. Washington and other influential African-American figures are.

Leaders who can’t relate don’t stay leaders for too long. Never forget that.

3. Take an interest in others

True leadership is about developing the team, not developing the leader. It is about taking interest in the welfare of others.

There are a number of activities that a leader can do to display interest in the life of his or her team members. A wise unit leader goes to lunch with his team and periodically has walk/talks with them to get to know who his or her team members really are.

Another good idea is to stop by your team’s station or offices once in a while to chat about topics unrelated to work. People from diverse backgrounds will appreciate this gesture.

One of the fastest ways to lose a diverse team and have them boycott a goal is to show disinterest in them. Leaders can’t afford to show disinterest if his goal is to have the diverse members of the team moving towards a common goal.

4. Be flexible

Being flexible is a great practice that will help a leader gain trust from his team. Flexible leaders treat their team members with respect and strive to accommodate diverse styles and needs.

Providing guidance when required and praising diverse team members when accomplishment is attained, will increase the chances that the team will be on board.

One of the fastest ways to “lose” a diverse team member is to single him out or find fault in his work when there wasn’t anything to report. The former isn’t good leadership and will most definitely create distrust and resentment which will then significantly decrease team member buy-in.

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5. Develop soft skills

Acting as a team player rather than an autocratic dictator, having effective interpersonal and non-verbal communication skills, along with the ability to receive critical feedback and engaging in storytelling can be excellent ways to bring diverse teams on board.

Good leadership calls for the need to connect with colleagues and other members of the organization. The act of giving constant criticism or isolating team members won’t help any leader to bring them on board a vision.

Maintaining an air of professionalism and building positive morale are critical components that persuade diverse teams members to buy into a vision. The act of delegating is a good one as well.

6. Have good judgement

Having good judgement starts by having an open mind. Diverse teams are likely to express differences in opinion. In order to keep them on board, the leader should take their ideas into account even if the majority rule believes otherwise. Sometimes, the best solutions are the ones that the people on the team thought were the least favorable. If a diverse team member isn’t participating in a meeting, ask him or her to share an opinion. Never, under any circumstances, disrespect them in public even if they have done something wrong. Dale Carnegie has taught us this lesson in his classic book, “How to Win Friends And Influence People.” In the end, the leader will lose influence and an ally resulting in less buy in from diverse team members.

Conclusion

Organizations who have diverse teams have an edge against other institutions with more homogeneous ones. There is an art to bringing team members from diverse backgrounds on board to share the same goal and people management skills are at the center of that.

One’s ability to listen and learn can go a long way. Being flexible, taking interest in others, developing soft skills and the ability to relate are also important skillsets that leaders should learn if their goals are to lead diverse teams and have them on their side.

Unfamiliarity with shared government principles, little diversity understanding and resistance to change are major threats that can impede a modern leader with bringing his team together on a goal.

Having people management skills are at the center of what makes diverse teams function as presented in this article. Fortunate will be leaders who strive to understand their diverse team first and judge them second. They will have buy in. They are the true modern leaders.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Harvard Business Review: How to Deal With Resistance to Change

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Dr. Luis C. Almeida

Associate Professor Of Communication Arts At Lee University

6 People Management Tactics to Lead a Diverse Team to Success

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Last Updated on November 15, 2018

Success In Reaching Goals Is Determined By Mindset

Success In Reaching Goals Is Determined By Mindset

What do you think it takes to achieve your goals? Hard work? Lots of actions? While these are paramount to becoming successful in reaching our goals, neither of these are possible without a positive mindset.

As humans, we naturally tend to lean towards a negative outlook when it comes to our hopes and dreams. We are prone to believing that we have limitations either from within ourselves or from external forces keeping us from truly getting to where we want to be in life. Our tendency to think that we’ll “believe it when we see it” suggests that our mindsets are focused on our goals not really being attainable until they’ve been achieved. The problem with this is that this common mindset fuels our limiting beliefs and shows a lack of faith in ourselves.

The Success Mindset

Success in achieving our goals comes down to a ‘success mindset’. Successful mindsets are those focused on victory, based on positive mental attitudes, empowering inclinations and good habits. Acquiring a success mindset is the sure-fire way to dramatically increase your chance to achieve your goals.

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The idea that achieving our goals comes down to our habits and actions is actually a typical type of mindset that misses a crucial point; that our mindset is, in fact, the determiner of our energy and what actions we take. A negative mindset will tend to create negative actions and similarly if we have a mindset that will only set into action once we see ‘proof’ that our goals are achievable, then the road will be much longer and arduous. This is why, instead of thinking “I’ll believe it when I see it”, a success mindset will think “I’ll see it when I believe it.”

The Placebo Effect and What It Shows Us About The Power of Mindset

The placebo effect is a perfect example of how mindset really can be powerful. In scientific trials, a group of participants were told they received medication that will heal an ailment but were actually given a sugar pill that does nothing (the placebo). Yet after the trial the participants believed it’s had a positive effect – sometimes even cured their ailment even though nothing has changed. This is the power of mindset.

How do we apply this to our goals? Well, when we set goals and dreams how often do we really believe they’ll come to fruition? Have absolute faith that they can be achieved? Have a complete unwavering expectation? Most of us don’t because we hold on to negative mindsets and limiting beliefs about ourselves that stop us from fully believing we are capable or that it’s at all possible. We tend to listen to the opinions of others despite them misaligning with our own or bow to societal pressures that make us believe we should think and act a certain way. There are many reasons why we possess these types of mindsets but a success mindset can be achieved.

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How To Create a Success Mindset

People with success mindsets have a particular way of perceiving things. They have positive outlooks and are able to put faith fully in their ability to succeed. With that in mind, here are a few ways that can turn a negative mindset into a successful one.

1. A Success Mindset Comes From a Growth Mindset

How does a mindset even manifest itself? It comes from the way you talk to yourself in the privacy of your own head. Realising this will go a long way towards noticing how you speak to yourself and others around you. If it’s mainly negative language you use when you talk about your goals and aspirations then this is an example of a fixed mindset.

A negative mindset brings with it a huge number of limiting beliefs. It creates a fixed mindset – one that can’t see beyond it’s own limitations. A growth mindset sees these limitations and looks beyond them – it finds ways to overcome obstacles and believes that this will result in success. When you think of your goal, a fixed mindset may think “what if I fail?” A growth mindset would look at the same goal and think “failures happen but that doesn’t mean I won’t be successful.”

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There’s a lot of power in changing your perspective.

2. Look For The Successes

It’s really important to get your mind focused on positive aspects of your goal. Finding inspiration through others can be really uplifting and keep you on track with developing your success mindset; reinforcing your belief that your dreams can be achieved. Find people that you can talk with about how they achieved their goals and seek out and surround yourself with positive people. This is crucial if you’re learning to develop a positive mindset.

3. Eliminate Negativity

You can come up against a lot of negativity sometimes either through other people or within yourself. Understanding that other people’s negative opinions are created through their own fears and limiting beliefs will go a long way in sustaining your success mindset. But for a lot of us, negative chatter can come from within and these usually manifest as negative words such as can’t, won’t, shouldn’t. Sometimes, when we think of how we’re going to achieve our goals, statements in our minds come out as negative absolutes: ‘It never works out for me’ or ‘I always fail.’

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When you notice these coming up you need to turn them around with ‘It always works out for me!’ and ‘I never fail!’ The trick is to believe it no matter what’s happened in the past. Remember that every new day is a clean slate and for you to adjust your mindset.

4. Create a Vision

Envisioning your end goal and seeing it in your mind is an important trait of a success mindset. Allowing ourselves to imagine our success creates a powerful excitement that shouldn’t be underestimated. When our brain becomes excited at the thought of achieving our goals, we become more committed, work harder towards achieving it and more likely to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

If this involves creating a vision board that you can look at to remind yourself every day then go for it. Small techniques like this go a long way in sustaining your success mindset and shouldn’t be dismissed.

An Inspirational Story…

For centuries experts said that running a mile in under 4 minutes was humanly impossible. On the 6th May 1954, Rodger Bannister did just that. As part of his training, Bannister relentlessly visualised the achievement, believing he could accomplish what everyone said wasn’t possible…and he did it.

What’s more amazing is that, as soon as Bannister achieved the 4-minute mile, more and more people also achieved it. How was this possible after so many years of no one achieving it? Because in people’s minds it was suddenly possible – once people knew that it was achievable it created a mindset of success and now, after over fifty years since Bannister did the ‘impossible’, his record has been lowered by 17 seconds – the power of the success mindset!

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