The reality is it is much harder to have a good relationship with and communicate with people who are different than us. They have different personalities, different strengths, and different approaches to work.
While we can think we are great communicators, readers of people, and such, the reality is working with people takes work and working with those who are different than us takes even MORE work!
It is said that it is God’s joke on couples that opposites usually attract. Meaning we are attracted to our opposite because they are good at or natural with something we are not, so we admire and love to have the “balance” to our “weakness”. As a couple is together, that difference can become an annoyance and irritation as the fun social party partner always wants to go out while you just need a quiet night at home, etc.
At work, we are naturally attracted to people like us and tend to click with them quickly. In leadership we KNOW fundamentally it is important to have a well-rounded team but in reality, it can be difficult to deal with.
The Gallup organization says, “Individuals do not need to be well rounded; teams need to be well rounded.”
If you want to have a well-rounded team, you must be willing to have tough conversations and work through differences. Generally, people do not like conflict and avoid it. This is part of the breakdown of teams and culture.
To be a great leader and have a great team one must be able to see each other’s strengths and make room for everyone to use their strengths. We often think we are doing this, but gravitate back to lack of conflict, lack of tough conversations, and so forth.
So, to have a team that is different and able to access a variety of strengths, we want to grow in our ability to do the following:
- Have a healthy debate
- Create a shared goal and priority and hold this ahead of our ego and personal priorities (find the win-win versus my way)
- Commit to work and life equally so we can be fully present and engaged (sometimes when things at work don’t go well, we blame, look for a new job, etc. we are quicker to exit or blow things off than dig in and work through them)
- Create space for diversity of thought by getting curious. Ask questions — how would you approach it? What are the pros and cons of that approach?
In a strong team culture, we want to build trust and compassion because this lets people know THEY matter first. The topic, project, and challenge will get worked out, but they have a sense of certainty, stability, and hope that everyone on the team matters, voices will be heard, and together the problem can be solved. It creates space for everyone, not making some better than others, some right and others wrong. It allows the individual to thrive in their strengths, the team to maximize their team strengths, and an overall well-rounded team to work together. To do this requires honesty, feedback, and a heart for people over process. The process of course matters but people matter first. As organizations approach work with this lens, powerful cultures and teams are built.
To dig into this more check out the book Strengths Finder by Gallup and take your Strengths Assessment to understand your strengths. Ask your team to take the assessment to understand their strengths.