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Disagreement, Conflict, and Diversity Are Essential in Building a Great Team


Disagreement, Conflict, and Diversity Are Essential in Building a Great Team

Are you part of a successful team? As the saying goes, “There’s no I in TEAM.” However, the team also needs to give its stars the opportunity to flourish. Great entertainment groups sports teams and scientific groups are examples of excellence. In addition, teams need to encourage diversity, expertise, and disagreement to encourage new ideas and solutions.

More on that in a minute. First, let’s look at what every great team needs to even have a chance of being bold.

Traditional Bosses Are Obsolete In Most Cases

The complexity, size, and diversity of many organizations have changed the role of leadership. In particular, top-down styles are being replaced by coordination, expertise, delegation and collaboration. In particular efforts like systems. outsourcing, operations, big data, measurement, and automation are adding complexity and coordination to leadership roles.

Goals Are Becoming More Diverse But Still Need To Be Clear

Growth, excellence, innovation profits, social welfare, etc. are all present as goals to various degrees in most organizations. However, they still need to be understood and clarified. For example, many organizations fail to change when their markets become saturated and they need to focus on profits rather than growth. Similar, research and development teams need more freedom to encourage their creativity.

I learned this early in life when I asked a fashion designer if she really needed to go to Europe for ideas. Her response was I can’t just sit in this office (it was really an awful office without even windows) and develop ideas without the stimulus and the time to brainstorm with my team. By the way, design teams should also visit operations to understand the complete impact of their designs. For example, how many colors do you really need?

Having common goals isn’t just pointing everyone in the same direction either. It’s about everyone helping each other get there. Truly successful teams see themselves as the collective whole and the individuals within.

Multiple Perspectives

So, you’re well on your way to success, getting everyone on the same page, maybe even hiring like-minded individuals to make that part easy. This is where homogeneity backfires.

The most successful teams are diverse. They bring different things, ideas, skill sets, and perspectives to the table. Things that you might not have even considered. Even the best leader won’t have a solution for every problem; they shouldn’t take all that responsibility either.

Trust & Respect On A Successful Team

The team can only work together towards that common goal if they trust each other to do so. When you have a diverse team, you especially need to build trust and respect with empathy and understanding for all those different viewpoints.

Good teamwork means camaraderie, brotherhood, and kinship. It’s a much sought-after feeling by managers, directors, coaches, and others in the leadership position. It means your team has a glue that holds them together. This is often seen as the ultimate end-goal to good group dynamics, but you’re not out of the woods yet.

Trust is key if your team members are going to feel able to express themselves. If you build your group up to speak their minds, though, you all better be able to listen too. Social informal interaction and activities are great for most groups. They can range from interesting dinners to group baseball games where everyone plays.

This can sometimes conflict with the elephants in the room that no one wants to discuss for mostly good reasons. Things like politics, sex, age, ethnic background, education, intelligence all affect the interaction of the group. On one hand, we need to understand these issues and encourage the diversity. On the other hand, we to ensure best practices even if it is not obvious. For example, it has been shown that in most cases test scores and background are better determinants than interviews in things like selection or college admissions efforts because of the underlying biases.

Positive Criticism

Feedback drives growth and everything is realistically vulnerable to criticism. There can be no precious ideas if those ideas aren’t the best for success. Ideas are morphed and molded by criticism and disagreement. For example, many cases of entrepreneurship as noted by Walter Jacobson in his book “Innovators” and others have witnessed wild conflicts between the principal parties. In many cases, one the parties even left after a few years.

This brings us back to that original point: Disagreement, conflict, and diversity are an inevitable part of growth. Bold decisions are only bold because they go against the grain; if everyone always agrees, there can be no bold decisions. The best teams are already capable of dealing with disagreement at this point because they have a clear common goal, a diversity of voices in the mix, and a respect for one another’s ideas.

So, it turns out that while there isn’t an I in TEAM, there’s a whole lot more than just T-E-A-M. A really great team brings out the best in all the I’s without sacrificing the total effort. When you find success within your team, only then do you stand a chance of finding success with it.

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