Team Diversity

With globalization of the economy in general and the Smythe Project in particular, Perry recognizes that the challenge of leading a diversified team has never been greater. The team members have a variety of backgrounds, including race, ethnicity, and religion. Leading a team in such an environment requires heightened sensitivity to different values, beliefs, norms, and lifestyles.

Perry understands that people vary in their concept of time, ways of doing business, styles of management and leadership, and views of how the world functions. He also understands that differences exist in the meaning of words (semantics), interpretation of expressions (body language), perception of priorities, and definition of team building. Needless to say, all this diversity adds complexity to the planning, coordination, and control of the project. He knows, however, that he can deal with diversity in several ways.

1. He sets the example by embracing diversity. Through research, background reviews, interviews, and the like, Perry learns about the diverse backgrounds of the people and encourages everyone to do the same.

2. He is patient when dealing with people of a different background. He remains conscious of different values and beliefs, for example, and accounts for them when leading the project.

3. He overcomes the temptation to stereotype. That is, he avoids generalizing about people based on one characteristic. He also tackles stereotyping by team members. An effective approach is to have people with different backgrounds work together. He can also have the team, with himself, attend diversity training to understand and respect differences.

4. He has empathy for other people's experiences. The word is empathy, not sympathy, since the latter connotes patronization and condescension. He attempts to appreciate, for example, the difficulties in reconciling different perceptions of time.

5. He encourages feedback. He is especially mindful to obtain feedback from people whose cultural background is dramatically different from his own or from the rest of the team. This lessens the tendency for the team to split into subgroups.

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