Posted by Jean Tweet
We were talking over a cup of tea here at Bailey Balfour and laughing about the saying “there is no I in team”. I realised that I had always had a problem with this saying. Clearly a team is a collection of its I’s. Moreover, the best teams are larger than the sum of their I’s. They are a group of diverse talents, people who bring their individuality to the team. Within the team, different perspectives are listened to, considered, and help to build the contribution of the team.
It has recently been “transfer window” in men's football here in England. Those who know me well will now be a little surprised that I even know this, but you can learn a lot from the back of the local newspapers. What is interesting about the transfer window is that it’s about talented players moving clubs so that they can bring their individual talent to help the team perform. Only will the transfer be worth the huge amounts of money if the new team learn about the skills and individuality of their new players and create a space in the way they play, for her or him to contribute their individual skill for the best of the team. Studies that diverse business teams that are led inclusively perform better. When leaders bring out the diverse individual contributions of the team, performance grows.
McKinsey research shows how companies with more diverse top teams (women and foreign nationals in this case) were also performing financially better than companies with less diverse team. In one company, as that research shows, senior leaders saw diversity as a strategic goal and set targets for increasing the number of women in management. The diversity drive that introduced policies to support work-life balance is also the same drive that introduced diversity into their design centres – and won product awards. Another company, whose team was highly multi national, expanded its global reach and met ambitious growth targets in emerging markets.
CTI’s research shows how diversity is linked to innovation and from there - to growth. A leader who is truly inclusive knows that the power of the group is in its I’s and knows how to empower the I’s in the team to make decisions, speak up and be heard. This enables the individuals in the group to feel safe to truly be an ‘I’ and feel safe when they ‘risk’ proposing new ideas and innovate. When the individuals in the team do not feel safe, they keep their ideas to themselves. New ideas are not spoken and they don’t have a chance of being heard.
There IS an I in Team, it’s the same I as in Inclusion and Innovation.
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