Teams and Diversity – how to benefit

More new research on teams and how teams deal best with diversity, direct from INSEAD.

“Klein’s research focuses on leadership of groups which consist of people with diverse core, fundamental values“ – groups where conflict is likely and it is difficult for the team to focus on a common goal. Klein specifically studied teams with diversity in work ethic- with some members who were hard-working, driven and internally motivated to accomplishing the task at hand, and other members who were more relaxed and not so motivated; as well as teams that varied in terms of respect for authority and traditional values.

What Klein found is that task-oriented leaders -“ those that focus the group on the task by assigning roles and deadlines, and providing a lot of structure to the team“ – can effectively lead values-diverse teams to perform well. If a leader doesn’t provide structure, then you have trouble.

Less successful in leading values-diverse teams are relationship-oriented leaders, who tend to be warm and caring toward individual team members. You imagine that that would be really helpful. Everybody would feel heard, everybody would feel included, right? Klein found that it backfires. So when you have a leader who is very warm, very considerate, and you have a very diverse group in terms of these values, it tends to exacerbate conflict.

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