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Supporting Managers in Leading Diverse Teams

Today's workplaces are more diverse than ever, with teams made up of people from various backgrounds and perspectives.  

 

Although this diversity brings great opportunities, with organisations experiencing benefits such as increased return on investment, motivated teams, enhanced problem-solving, and better communication, it can also bring about challenges for managers who may not have received appropriate training or have limited exposure to diversity in the workplace.  

 

Whether you’re a manager looking to increase your knowledge or a leader looking for ways to support managers in leading diverse teams, this blog covers: 

 

  • Challenges managers face in leading diverse teams. 

  • 5 ways to overcome challenges in leading diverse teams. 

  • How The Leadership Coaches can support you and your organisation. 

 

Challenges Managers Face in Leading Diverse Teams  

At The Leadership Coaches, we recently asked a group of leaders what they believe are current challenges when it comes to leading diverse teams. Here’s what they shared with us: 


  • Stereotyping: Making assumptions about people based on their ethnic background, limiting their chances for leadership roles. 

  • Cultural misunderstandings: Misinterpreting non-verbal cues, like eye contact, in meetings, leading to misunderstandings about team members' opinions or feelings. 

  • Bias: Unconsciously favouring employees with similar interests, unfairly advancing certain groups. 

  • Culture, or a lack of: People feeling the need to hide parts of themselves at work due to fear of judgement or lack of acceptance. 

  • Beliefs: Differences in values causing challenges within a team, where members struggle to accept practices that go against their personal beliefs. 

  • Lack of diversity within the organisation or limited exposure to diversity: Everyone being from the same area, background, or age group could hinder diverse team development, making it hard for managers to lead diverse teams. 

  • Business readiness: This could include how prepared the business is and the training available for managers. Inadequate training can lead to an inability to address diversity issues or create an inclusive workplace. 

  • A lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy: Failing to establish policies to actively promote diversity and inclusion, resulting in a lack of representation throughout the organisation. 

  • Language: Many people fear offending other people and don’t know if they are responsible for teaching others to speak appropriately, so they avoid talking about diversity. Not knowing what words to use when talking to people, such as the right pronouns to use and how to refer to others.  

  • Being able to facilitate diversity within the organisation: Not providing suitable accommodations to support diversity in the workplace, such as non-binary bathrooms and quiet spaces to help manage sensory sensitivities. 

  • Being unaware of neurodiversity/neurodivergent talent within the organisation: A lack of awareness about neurodiversity and neurodivergent talent also poses significant challenges as managers remain unsure of who/if anyone requires additional support. 


The above challenges are all too common in organisations across the world. Overcoming them is essential for unlocking the full potential of a diverse workforce.    Why? 

 

By bringing together people with different viewpoints and life experiences, diverse teams foster creativity, innovation, and problem-solving. They are able to approach challenges from multiple angles, leading to richer discussions and more comprehensive solutions.  

 

Additionally, diverse teams promote inclusivity and equity, broadening the talent pool, and creating an environment where every member feels valued and empowered to contribute their unique talents and insights. 

 

5 Ways To Overcome Challenges in Leading Diverse Teams 

By addressing challenges related to diversity, companies not only create an inclusive work environment but also gain a competitive edge in today's diverse and dynamic business landscape.   But how can you begin to do this within your organisation?  


Two people talking at work

 

Here are 5 tips for overcoming challenges in leading diverse teams: 


1. Provide executive coaching

With the involvement of a sponsor from within the organisation, executive coaching by experienced credible coaches can accelerate and ensure rapid growth, development, capacity, and capability for your leaders and managers to lead diverse teams. 

 

2. Take advantage of team coaching

In addition to one-to-one executive coaching, managers can benefit from bringing in an external team coach. With the support of a team coach, organisations can:  


  • Establish a common purpose and team identity. 

  • Create a team learning culture, that builds diversity, equity, and inclusion awareness, improves emotional intelligence, and creates greater capacity and capability. 

  • Create a unified team approach to stakeholder management, stakeholder mapping, and stakeholder influencing. 

Gain agreement on how internal processes are done to fulfil the team’s purpose.


3. Deploy Core StrengthsTM personality profiling

When it comes to managing diverse teams, many organisations and leaders find Core StrengthsTM personality profiling beneficial.  


The profiling highlights how people work best, how they may feel or act in difficult situations, what they may do when experiencing conflict, and how they are typically triggered.  


With this shared insight, teams can learn how to converse with others, increase their emotional and relationship intelligence, and become experts in managing conflict. 

 

4. Offer equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging training

Regardless of whether an organisation embraces diversity or has a lack of diverse talent, everyone can benefit from equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging, training. 


This type of training delves into topics such as intersectionality, inclusive language, allyship and unconscious bias. It looks at what could make people feel uncomfortable, lived experiences, and how equity and equality are different and how having equity rather than equality brings about change. 


This training also supports leaders, managers, and teams in considering different perspectives and understanding how to support their people best. 


At The Leadership Coaches, we currently provide this training to clients nationwide. In an evaluation for a course that we’ve been running for over three years, participants rated The Leadership Coaches as providing 93% satisfaction and 91% impact scores (applied learning).  


5. Foster inclusive communication

Providing training and coaching is all good and well, but for leaders and managers looking to overcome challenges in diverse teams, fostering inclusive communication is a must. 

But what does this look like? It could include: 


  • Encourage open dialogue where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and perspectives.  

  • Actively listening to understand different viewpoints and ensure everyone has an opportunity to contribute.  

  • Using inclusive language and be mindful of cultural differences in communication styles. 


Leading diverse teams at work


We’re On Hand to Support Your Managers in Leading Diverse Teams 

At The Leadership Coaches, we specialise in executive and team coaching.


Our coaching team has an average of 15 years of experience, specialising in coaching c-suite executives, directors, and senior leaders, addressing complex and modern leadership challenges.  


Our executive coaching services see us carefully match individuals with our executive coaches. Leaders and managers then progress through a bespoke programme designed to maximise each person’s potential.   


Likewise, our team coaching services are designed to improve the effectiveness of the team by helping team members develop their individual and collective skills.   To learn how we can support you, your people, and your teams in managing diverse teams, call us today on 03450 950 480. 

 

Alternatively, contact us via our website and a member of our senior leadership team will get back to you. 

 

Further Reading 

To learn more about leading diverse teams or diversity, read a selection of our blogs via the links below: 

 

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