Monday, October 10, 2011

Five steps to building inclusive teams

Teams that excel at diversity and inclusion reach more customers, and serve them better. They design and build better products and services. They attract and retain the best talent. Their employees are engaged and want to make a contribution.

There are five basic principles for leaders who want to build more-inclusive teams:

  1. Operate outside your comfort zone. "As a leader, you will encounter people from different cultures, ethnicities, genders, ages, and beliefs," . "Explore, ask questions, probe, and value their thoughts and contributions to the team."
  2. Be aware of differences. The key to success lies in your team members' differences and multiple viewpoints. "Embrace the differences and do not attempt to change them," he advised.
  3. Get good at listening. This is critical for leaders, and information sharing needs to be two-way. Inclusive leaders "must draw out the thoughts of others who are reluctant to talk because of past experiences. The road might be bumpy, but once trust has been established, innovation and team success will follow.
  4. Focus on the individual. Inclusion really takes place at a personal level, and is rooted in respect for the individual.
  5. Everyone can contribute. Everyone has something to contribute to the team. When leaders are inclusive, "Company ended up with the best answers for people, clients, and shareholders."

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