Why Talent Diversity Matters: Expert Tips For Building The Perfect Team

Shannon Waller
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Here’s Why Talent Diversity Matters

Nobody ever said building a great team was easy. It’s one of the biggest challenges for any business owner to overcome, and especially for entrepreneurs, who often think they can and should do everything themselves.

But if you’re serious about growing your business, you’ll eventually have to stop manning the oars and begin steering the ship—before you burn yourself out. No matter how safe it might feel to be in charge, the sooner you can learn to access and amplify the unique capabilities of the people around you, the sooner you’ll see your freedom, creativity, and results multiply.

Why some teams fall flat.

But not all teams are created equal. Some have energy and momentum built right into their DNA, with everyone’s unique talents and perspectives combining and multiplying, while others just get stuck, with each person waiting for someone else to pick up the slack.

The difference between them? Talent diversity.

Great teams are diverse teams, yet most entrepreneurs start out by hiring people just like themselves. They gravitate toward people who think like them, work like them, and act like them.

Believe me, I get it: It feels good to be around people like us. It’s comforting, like a cozy blanket, to talk to people whose energy and perspective match our own. We already know they’ll get excited about our ideas and will handle projects (and their timelines) like we would, all of which provides a big confidence boost.

However, this kind of talent bias limits your personal and professional growth more than you might think. If your ideas are never challenged, neither are you. It’s total stagnation.

Our teams should be a complex tapestry of capabilities and perspectives, strengths and weaknesses, each supporting and complementing the others. In reality, they’re often a monochrome portrait of our own preferences and biases.

Great businesses are built on great teamwork. For more tips on hiring strategically, get your copy of The Team Success Handbook today.

A different kind of diversity.

That’s why talent diversity matters so much—more than just about anything else when it comes to building a successful team. If everybody brings the same abilities and instincts to the table, nothing gets done. Or at least, nothing creative, exciting, or groundbreaking.

And you know what? Sometimes you do need to go and hang out with someone who’s just like you. It’ll refill your energy bucket. But then you need to go back out and actively seek and encourage other people’s perspectives.

Because whether you’re a team of three or 300, you need talent diversity if you want results. After all, where would Steve Jobs be without the thousands of skilled people needed to research, test, develop, and market his ideas? How about the brilliant (and famously antisocial) Sherlock Holmes without Watson to tell his story—and get him out of the house?

The thing is, great teams don’t happen by accident. They’re the result of purpose, planning, and intention.

Know thyself.

Your planning starts with honest self-reflection. Be realistic: What are your strengths and weaknesses? How do you work best (and worst)? What parts of your work do you love, and which do you hate?

At Strategic Coach, we rely on profiles like Kolbe, which measures your striving instincts, and CliftonStrengths, which ranks your capabilities, to not only help us better understand ourselves and how we work, but how to use that knowledge to work better with others too. For example, one aspect of my Kolbe profile is that I’m an “Initiating Quick Start.” I have a natural ability to innovate and improvise, and I thrive on short deadlines. I love generating ideas, but when it comes down to the planning, research, and logistics needed to take them from concept to reality? Not so much.

If everyone on my team were like me—and we absolutely made this mistake in the early days at Coach—very little would get done. Oh, we’d have lots of great brainstorming sessions where we’d come up with lots of exciting ideas, but when those conversations ended, we’d just leave. No strategy, no plan, no follow through.

Fitting the pieces together.

It wasn’t until we hired someone whose mental energy completely opposed our own—someone whose Kolbe showed they initiate in Fact Finder and Follow Through—that we started to get somewhere. We needed someone who could plot out how long something would take, what facts were required, and how much it would all cost, none of which any of us cared to do or were skilled at.

Now, I actively assemble a team of people who have very different striving instincts than I do, and I rely on this breadth of experience and skills, on people working within their Unique Ability, to free up my own mental energy and creativity.

I listen, and I pay attention, and I don’t shut others down. And I learn who’s good at what, so I know who to go to when I need help with something I’m not very skilled at, just as they can do with me.

You’re richer than you think.

If you’ve got a team, you’ve got untold riches lying around just waiting to be taken advantage of. Never underestimate how much people appreciate being accessed for their innate capabilities and perspectives—or how much you need them to be successful. Get to know your team, get to know yourself, and use talent diversity to maximize everyone’s results.