Photo credit: Caleigh Mayer
Being in sync with your colleagues can lead to success. Daniel Pink, in his book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, notes that, “A sense of belonging helps individuals cohere. And synchronization both requires and heightens well-being.”
There is a compelling body of research that demonstrates that diversity unlocks innovation and drives market growth, diverse teams are smarter, and there is a positive correlation between diversity and economic prosperity. However, diversity could disrupt team performance, as well as enhance it. What if communication styles and ways of processing information are so different within a team that it leads to friction or conflict?
I have been part of cohesive and successful as well as disjointed and unsuccessful teams comprised of people with diverse backgrounds, skills, and experiences. In one situation, where a number of new members of a not-for-profit Board all left within a year, one of the incumbent Board members sought to rectify it by recruiting only from their existing network. Whilst this approach may appear to solve one challenge, it could potentially lead to lack of diversity and inclusion, which in turn could be detrimental to an organization in the long-run.
Diversity on its own is not enough for success. Which brings me back to Pink’s findings and suggestions. He points to three questions to help groups get in sync:
- Do we have a clear boss? A boss could be a leader or some external standard. It is someone (or something) “who engenders respect, whose role is unambiguous, and to whom everyone can direct their initial focus.”
- “Are we fostering a sense of belonging that enriches individual identity, deepens affiliation, and allows everyone to synchronize to the tribe?”
- “Are we activating the uplift – feeling good and doing good?” Uplift comes from a sense of purpose, ikigai, or that balance of meeting your own needs whilst serving others.
In practically every new relationship or formation of a new team, I’ve sought conversations, meetings, or practices to help us find common ground, alignment, or to get in sync. An onboarding process for new hires I created when I worked for a financial institution and our team was rapidly growing helped our new team members get in sync with the team’s strategy, processes, and culture. A strategic vision session helped inch a high caliber team of individual contributors with different backgrounds and experiences towards improved cohesion. When I joined the Board of the Women’s Enterprise Centre of BC, I participated in their process for onboarding new Board members which enabled us to learn more about each other’s strengths and personalities and engendered a sense of coherence.
Outsiders joining new communities take risks by attempting to join without knowing fully what the common ground is. Communities take risks by inviting outsiders in, not knowing fully whether new members will sync with incumbent members. These risks could be reduced by building relationships early and by having a type of courtship process before agreeing to partner, working together, or joining in a committed way.
Pink’s suggestions for increasing cohesion and intentionally do things to get in sync caught my attention and I would love to try these in practices. They are great suggestions for anyone who wants to implement a diversity and inclusion strategy because diversity alone won’t lead to success. You’ll want to get your diverse team members in sync so that they can contribute their diverse perspectives, skills, and experience with coherence. Pink’s tips include:
- Improv warm-up exercises “mind meld” and “pass the clap”. The Improv Resource Center wiki lists 51 warm-up exercises that could help you get in sync.
- Beyond onboarding processes and strategy sessions, replying quickly to email, sharing stories about struggle, nurturing self-organized group rituals, and “jigsaw classroom” can help promote belonging.
I made leadership diversity a core focus for Pique Ventures since its inception in 2012. The CEOs of the companies we’ve invested in are all women, however they all have different backgrounds, skills, and experiences. This diversity is an advantage within our investment portfolio. I’ve gathered our portfolio company CEOs together informally for various events as well as our CEO mini-summit in 2018 – giving them an opportunity to get in sync with each other, although I haven’t put in place some of the exercises Pink suggests. One of my aims would be to bring portfolio company CEOs together more often as I’m sure there’s a lot more that they each could gain from speaking with and learning from each other.
With Pique Fund, I also aimed to serve a more diverse investor community. There are 41 pioneering investors in Pique’s first fund. 75% of Pique Fund’s capital comes from women (32 of our investors) and a third of the fund’s investors identify as people of colour. A focus on impact, connection, and innovation and an inclusive approach that served a diverse set of investor needs brought them together in this fund.
Increasingly, organizations are understanding the benefits of having leadership diversity and diverse teams, however it’s being in sync – a sense of belonging – that can lead to success.
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About Pique Ventures
Pique Ventures is an impact investment and management company. Pique Ventures enables a diverse community of investors to pursue integrated investing. Integrated Investing is a proprietary investment decision-making methodology to help create a better world and was developed specifically to evaluate impact and early-stage ventures.