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Diverse teams excel if, and only if, the members appreciate their differences and know how to navigate them productively. Otherwise, differences create friction but no added value and, in fact, can rip an otherwise promising business apart. This is especially true with cofounders, who set the tone for their organizations.

What counts is how personalities and personality differences translate into behaviors. The following steps enable teams to harness their differences for success.

  • Identify the styles you have and those you need.

For example, do you have a hard-charging creative type but need someone to relate effectively with the customers? Is there someone with tough analytical rigor to target operational improvements and manage the cash flow? Be clear about the styles you need in positions you add. You can train for content but not for major shifts in style.

  • Understand and appreciate the benefits and challenges of each style.

 Different personalities express their behaviors in different ways. These can be either annoying differences or helpful benefits. My clients value behavior style profile reports to address the differences objectively and develop ways to flex and use their differences effectively.

  • Make bringing forth the best in one another a business imperative.

Too many organizations accept personality clashes. They particularly give slack to members who are strong individual contributors. This simply enables bad behavior. I haven’t seen a single instance where team members couldn’t learn to work together if they wanted to do so. Is your organization making clear that it’s not enough to do great individual work if participants can’t work together effectively when needed?

  • Navigate the differences productively.

Incorporating different styles in your workplace requires discipline and patience. You need discipline to avoid running over people with different styles. Patience may require that that you go slow to go fast.

 

Copyright © 2017 Don Maruska

Photo Credit: pablo.buffer.com

About Don Maruska

As a founder and CEO of three Silicon Valley companies, venture investor, and recipient of the National Innovators Award, Don writes, speaks, and coaches from a broad base of experience » Learn More

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