“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
Whether we’re at work or at home, to varying degrees, those around us don’t value or see events, situations or issues the we do or in the ways we prefer they would.
Chris R. Stricklin, writes in his most recent published Forbes piece, “Seven Lessons On Building Elite Teams For Disruptive Innovation,” that the first lesson in building elite teams is to “demand diversity of thought.”
Chris knows a thing or two about leading elite teams. As a former United States Air Force Colonel and Thunderbird Pilot his leadership responsibilities included leading a force of 7000 highly trained military members. I value Chris as mentor, and friend. He’s the real deal; a leader’s leader.
Here is a question for you; how important is diversity, to your leadership style? How would your people at all levels, up-stream, cross-stream and down-stream, answer that same question? Do you know? Have you asked? If not, what’s holding you back from finding out?
Now let’s spin the diversity question in the other and opposite direction. We’ll shift the question’s focus now, to the absence of diversity. If you value diverse thinking, how well do you, your key people, and their teams relate to, handle, tolerate and, or leverage the absence of diverse thinking in others?
Fixed and diverse thinkers can be defined in a few simple ways; all centering around what they value or what their motivational drivers are. Both thinking types are needed for success. Both thinking types can and should work in concert and harmony with each other to produce successful business outcomes. In short both thinking types need each other to win more and better of what’s wanted.
Fixed thinkers value structure. They are driven and rewarded by traditional approaches, proven methods and defined systems for living. They utilize knowledge gained from past experiences. They value sameness, consistency, and the efficiencies of repetition born out of what has been proven to work successfully in the past.
As a norm, fixed thinkers are less change forward, than diverse thinkers are. They will change but, will do so only when practical reasons are provided that they agree with and to. Fixed thinkers won’t change for change sake. There has to be a valid reason for the change. Consistency, steadiness, predictability and stability energizes fixed thinkers. If sureness, certainty, regularity and dependability could be magically blended into a protein rich, thick and substantive, pulpy smoothie, OMG they’d drink it all day, every day.
Diverse thinkers on the other hand are more receptive and open to new ideas, methods and opportunities that fall outside of a defined system of living. Diverse thinkers are more change forward than fixed thinkers. They tend to be driven more by opportunities to learn and acquire knowledge for the sake of discovery. Diverse thinkers, love change. Fresh new approaches and points of view gives them their sugar rush. Diverse thinkers are open to new perspectives and ways of viewing problems and solutions. Diverse thinkers gulp down change like its fresh squeezed orange or carrot juice. Just the thought of change pumps diverse thinkers up and energizes them.
As a leader knowing the value of your assets is crucial to your career and rising star path. So is knowing the value of the liabilities around you. How well do you know the values of your key people? And, how well do your key people know the asset and liability values of the people they rely on to scale success?
The point here is this – if you aren’t creating conditions that bring about greater cross-team dependency on and through diversity, then you are sub-maximizing your performance capacity as a leader and your people’s potential performance capacity.
Here are 8 points to consider when assessing and evaluating your team’s quality of diversity;
- Fixed thinkers think differently that diverse thinkers.
- Our biases place a high or low value on fixed and diverse thinking.
- We know people approach problem solving differently.
- Some people start with big picture in mind, then progress down into particular parts.
- Others see the particular parts of a problem first and then move up into the big picture.
- As leaders, our role is to understand and optimize how our talent assets think.
- Team strengths are assets. Team weaknesses are liabilities.
- All problem-solving strengths become liabilities when we over-rely on them.
Here are 17 questions to ask yourself and others, to improve your team’s capacity for group thinking;
- How well do you understand the thinking and problem-solving styles of those you rely on most?
- How diverse can you claim to be, if you devalue fixed thinking in others?
- How diverse can you claim to be, if you devalue diverse thinking in others?
- What might the consequence be of your devaluing fixed under diverse thinking?
- What might the consequence be of your devaluing diverse under fixed thinking?
- What does your fixed-to-diverse-thinker, ratio look like across your team?
- Have you defined how your key people think and scatter out as a team?
- Have you actually chartered out how your teams thinking scatters out on a wheel?
- How are you leveraging the quality and capacity of your diverse thinkers?
- How are you leveraging the quality and capacity of your fixed thinkers?
- Does your team recognize, respect and leverage different thinking styles?
- How would you define the contribution value of your diverse thinkers?
- How would you define the contribution value of your fixed thinkers?
- Do your people know how you value their thinking styles?
- Do you know how your people value their composite of thinking styles?
- How dependent or not are your team players on the thinking style of others?
- How dependent or not are your team players on your thinking style?
- What are you doing to cultivate the problem-solving skills of your people?
- Do you understand your own problem-solving process?
- Do your people and organizational culture have a defined problem-solving process?
- How will you apply your answers to the above 20 questions?
- When you apply your new-found knowledge what will the advantage be to you, your people, their teams and your company?
- When will your practical application of this knowledge start, across who, by when?
As leaders we all value diversity. Or we’re supposed to. Diversity is a hot performance and productivity topic. Has been for years. It’s growing in value.
Are you and your people growing in their understanding of how to work with and across diverse thinking and leverage that capacity to win more and better for your organization, for yourself and for your people; personally, and professionally?If you suspect you may be under-valuing and under-utilizing the diversity of those around you, that you rely on for success – then take a breath, slow down, move out of driver mode, put on your thinking cap and focus on deliberately going through the above 23 questions to determine what’s needed for next level of winning.