We live in communities, yet it is challenging for us to work effectively as teams, especially with people who are different from us. Many of our clients see tremendous value in diversity but struggle to make diverse teams work well together. Research confirms that diverse teams can be both the best and the worst performing teams. In other words, diversity represents a performance risk.
Diversity comes in many different forms. Sources of social diversity including gender, race and religion are often seen as more complex than sources of cognitive diversity such as education, experience or skills. In our recent work with clients we observe that building a strong team benefiting from cognitive diversity is already challenging. If achieving efficiency and effectiveness with the “easiest” form of diversity, how can the more complex ones be handled for a better performance? Fortunately the skills and leadership traits required for cognitive diverse teams to achieve their best do not appear to be any different than those required for socially diverse teams. Some of these skills are surprisingly straightforward such as ensuring participation, learning how to truly listening, making curious enquiries and encouraging constructive conflict. Yet persistent and consistent implementation takes time, energy and attention which are scarce in busy, complex work environments.
Furthermore, diversity forces us to challenge our biological instincts about who we consider part of our communities. Joshua Green writes in his excellent book “Moral Tribes” that our brains were designed for tribal life, for getting along with a select group of others and for fighting off everyone else. We readily identify people similar to us as part of our tribe and those different to us as everyone else. This is the heart of what we need to redefine: who we see as part of our community.
To make the best out of diverse teams, at Yda Bouvier we work with our clients to implement new, lasting behaviours and mindsets.
These are links to a few TED talks and articles with surprising ideas. We like to use short pieces such as these as preparation materials for our workshops and/or as reflection input for coachees
The psychology of your future self, Dan Gilbert (TED talk, click here)
Managing with the brain in mind, David Rock (Article, click here )
How to make stress your friend, Kelly McGonagal (Ted talk, click here)
My stroke of insight, Jill Bolte Taylor (Ted talk, click here)
How to make hard choices, Ruth Chang (Ted talk, click here)
Below is a small selection of the books that inform our work. Many of them are linked to developments in neurobiology and what these imply for our behaviours, beliefs and well-being. I am deeply grateful to the scientists and practitioners who explore the complexities of our functioning and share them with us through their writings. We focus on translating these fascinating insights into tangible applications in our coaching and workshops.
Mindsight, the new science of personal transformation, Daniel Siegel (2010)
Search Inside Yourself, increase productivity, creativity and happiness, Chade-Meng Tan (2012)
Your Brain at Work, David Rock (2009)
Moral Tribes, Joshua Greene (2013)
Time to Think, listen to ignite the human mind, Nancy Kline (1999)
Working identity, unconventional strategies for Reinventing your career, Herminia Ibarra (2004)
What Works, gender equality by design, Iris Bohnet (2016)
Behave, the biology of humans at our best and worst, Robert Sapolsky (2018)