Teams are only as strong as the diversity of their members—from all aspects, including age. I have observed poor managers and leaders who cast their teams based on how “alike” members were to self. They sought members who were mere automatons. I think the correct words used to be “yes people”. These are products of fear-based leaders—do what I say or the highway.
On the other hand, I have seen extraordinary leaders who go to great lengths to develop their teams much like a chef would do when creating a salad with all the colors, textures, and tastes. This type leader looks for and appreciates the diversity in peoples’ life experiences, skill sets, personalities, and thought processes. They value and leverage divergent thinking as a necessity to creativity, innovation, and team success.
Once the great leaders have their teams, they learn as much as they can about each individual—not just at work, but they ask “who is this person?” What fires his passion? What is she interested in? Get to know your team members, their families, and call them by name. Assess individual’s innate talents? If you are able to leverage an individual’s innate talents, you fire passion. Passion creates energy and excelerates team performance.
I recently observed a manager working with her team. She spoke of how different each team member was, and the strengths of each. She did not criticize either, only spoke to each member’s strengths. She then talked about how she leveraged each individual’s strengths when making special team assignments or when another team leader needed assistance. For example, one member is great at coaching; she has a passion for helping others succeed. One is highly tech-literate and likes to navigate the most complicated search engines. Another is highly energetic and a great spokesperson—a motivator.
By tapping into individual strengths, she is able to fire the passions of each. Employee satisfaction is higher. Ultimately, she helps everyone maximize their potential, and consistently arrives at results more easily.
As a leader, make it a point to find out who your team members are. Get to know them as human beings who have souls, not just a name on an organizational chart. An organization is not just a tangible thing. It is made up of people who have hopes, dreams and desires. Once you recognize this and aspire to help your people—all your people—achieve their dreams, you will achieve extraordinary results.
Copyright © 2011 by Patricia Hatley
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