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December 13, 2018

Maximizing Your Team Talent Contribution

Cristy De La Cruz

Cristy De La Cruz
Principal/DLC Solutions LLC

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"...research suggests that it is companies that effectively work with a more diverse talent pool that actually win in the marketplace. "


Many people make the unfortunate mistake of hiring people who look, talk and think like them in organizations. You want someone who is a "cultural fit" with your group, right?

But research suggests that it is companies that effectively work with a more diverse talent pool that actually win in the marketplace. Particularly when individuals are able to challenge the status quo and think about problems in new ways, you can benefit from their unique experience and expertise.

So often companies look for diverse talent to "fill out" their leadership roles only to ignore what these team members have to say. Unfortunately this fuels disengagement and disconnection. When you hire people you need to find the best, and make sure they have opportunities to participate in the decision-making in your organization.

Sometimes the quiet person in the room has more to say than the person who talks the most. They may be an introvert, and may not like being the center of attention. I can relate. But having had to lead many team meetings, I got over my initial reluctance to speak up when I had something to say. It has served me well throughout my career.

As a leader though, sometimes you may have to put the quiet people on the spot. You may say "Maria, we have not had a chance to hear what you think. What are your thoughts on this idea? Do you want to weigh in?" People may feel put on the spot at first, but they often appreciate being asked. 

If they are used to an aggressive or competitive culture, where people are speaking over each other, they probably are not as used to being heard. Sometimes the wisest insights can come from your quiet people. And even better, sometimes the best QUESTIONS come from these people as well. They are the ones who think and process and evaluate the information while the rest of the team may be jockeying to speak.

Susan Cain's book "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking" cites many examples of leaders throughout history that had a more quiet and thoughtful approach to leading. She also explains how the "cult" of extraversion got started and the historical basis for its beginning. 

Organizations of the future need to have a mix of talent and strengths within them to survive for the long haul. This includes a diversity of temperaments as well. Strengths Finder (a Clifton tool) to help leaders better understand their teams, can help to uncover some of these factors. Designing exercises in team-building around acknowledging and celebrating each other's strengths can go a long way toward promoting team trust and improving interactions.

As an operational leader, I saw the power of inclusion and maximizing each person's contribution through openly discussing strengths. If you do not have time for it, you may be missing out on some key elements of your team's talent contributions. Nobody can afford that in this day and age. 

Comments? You can contact me directly via my AdvisoryCloud profile.

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