Somewhere on your team someone is silent. Somebody has something important to say and something important to contribute to the success of your venture and you are losing out. These people do not look like you, talk like you or think like you. That's what makes them worth listening to. How will you tap all the creativity you've been missing up until now?
A few years ago, I had the good fortune of having lunch with Katy Taylor. Katy chairs the board of the Royal Bank of Canada and is part of a small number of corporate directors who are women (22.6% according to the ICD).
That women are super-capable is not news to me.
I was raised by a single mother who did a Herculean job of keeping the wolves of scarcity from our door. I also have two female business partners who have no problem holding up their end of the business. No problem at all. I didn't pick them especially because they are women, I picked them because they are the best I've ever met at what they do.
Brett Wilson is famous for referring to philanthropy as an opportunity not an obligation. He also thinks that Corporate Social Opportunity is a better concept than Corporate Social Responsibility. It's good to have a mix of genders, age groups and ethnic backgrounds on a team, not as a matter of affirmative action but as a matter of enlightened self-interest. It's just better business. Including a diversity of perspectives on a team results in better ideas and better strategies.
Diversity is an opportunity not an obligation.
Katy Taylor understand the opportunity inherent in diversity and how to make it work. She was the person primarily responsible for engineering the Four Seasons Hotel's legendary and much copied approach to employee engagement and customer experience management. She told me that the two keys to that success were teaching the front-line leaders how to coach and making the soft things hard (integrating relationship skills with financial metrics).
One of the challenges of diversity is that team alignment can be much more difficult to achieve. The creative sparks that come from our differences can also lead to more conflicts, drama and toxic communication. The solution to this misalignment is teaching the front-line leaders how to coach and making the soft things hard–the two things my partners and I are expert at. That process is not a trivial one. Check us out at stepup.net. There is a valuable conversation awaiting you.
Coaching is a technology that makes diversity work.