Top talent thrives best in a milieu of diversity. The confident, charismatic front-man has a role. Think Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones. Consider what Mick might sound like if the understated drummer, Charlie Watts, wasn’t holding the rhythm of the song together singlehandedly (with the impeccable coordination of two hands and two feet). Keith Richards’ rhythm guitar chops create the most memorable chords that repeat in your head but he, like Charlie, is a back-up player.
Apply this formula to your team. Which player are you? Do you prefer to be out front leading? Are you behind the scenes holding everything together in a quiet and humble way? Do you need credit for your efforts are do you prefer to share accolades with others? Will your contribution be the thing that everyone remembers or would you prefer to stay under the radar?
Talent matters but chemistry matters more. Simply, the more diverse the background, experience, personality and wiring of your team, the greater the chance for ‘dream team’ level accomplishment. Let’s break this down.
- While a common destination is desirable, it’s best to have as many paths to that destination as possible. Dream teams remain open to all paths.
- While conflict is uncomfortable, different perspectives exchanged respectfully grow the prospect of solving problems. Dream teams are willing to step outside of their comfort zones.
- While common ground feels comfortable, new ideas rarely come from seeing the world the same way. Dream teams challenge the status quo.
- While trust is fragile, connection provides a safety net. Dream teams take risks and are willing to fix things when they break.
- While change is risky, innovation is exciting. Dream teams have a palette for adventure.
- While transitions are depleting, renewal and reinvestment are energizing. Dream teams have someone who is willing to lead the way.
Consider the personality variable in the team chemistry equation. What if you defined diversity in terms of the traits that create readiness for change. Some teammates contribute optimism and passion. Others add confidence and resourcefulness. Still others supply adventure, while some provide adaptability. And let’s not forget the teammates who have that ability to endure the unknown and tolerate ambiguity. They have a way of keeping things grey when the rest of the team is in a rush to achieve black or white.
Diversity isn’t just defined conventionally. Who is on your dream team?