As this professional and college football season is winding down, I have taken a few notes about diverse teams. It is fair to note that a winning team is one with both a consistent good attack and a consistent good defense from the start of a game to the end, from the start of a season to the end.
Teams and fans always remember times when imbalance between diverse components of a team leads to losing games. If they don’t, the media will constantly remind them.
I am yet to see a defense, or an offense, by itself win a game. Teams win games. The defense and the offense operate with different organizational and competitive cultures. Both cultures ought to be complementary for the team to win.
A team composed of the best quarterbacks of the league will not win games against the most mediocre team with both a defense and an offense. To use the analogy of the other football that I grew up playing, the football that is actually played with feet, a team composed of the best goalkeepers will not win soccer games.
You may be wondering where in the world I am going with all this. I want to make two points here:
The first point is that any organization that wants to be successful needs diversify its members. That diversity lays on physical diversity as well as cognitive diversity. Successful organizations also seek diversity of skills and talents, contrasting perspectives and experiences, complementary cultures and beliefs, divergent thoughts and ideas. Great leaders understand this and diversify their teams accordingly. Examples abound, of failing organizations, politicians and businesses that react too late to their failure of proactively including the impact of diversity and inclusion in their plans. In today’s multicultural workplaces, the words of Dee W. Hock, the very successful founder and former CEO of Visa Credit Card resonate more than ever, “Never hire or promote in your own image. It is foolish to replicate your strength and idiotic to replicate your weakness. It is essential to employ, trust, and reward those whose perspective, ability, and judgment are radically different from yours.”
The second point I want to make is obvious. We have not mentioned race in the above analysis; diversity is not only about race. Yes, race is the most visible cultural component of diversity. Because everyone easily sees it! Plus, race has historically been the major issue in civil rights and in diversity. Nevertheless, diversity is even bigger than the seven constructs the federal government cites and considers as violation of civil rights if anyone impedes them: gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability, national origin and race.
Simply put, diversity is variety, and variety is the underlying strength of a team.
Emmanuel Ngomsi, Ph.D.is President of All World Languages and Cultures, Inc. He educates and coaches on issues of cultures and diversity. He can be reached at info@universalhighways.