The best teams are diverse and boast a mix of personalities, skills, talent and competence. Effective leaders will harness that capacity and empower every team member to contribute.

Why is it important?

We all want to attract the best talent to our teams, and where possible, keep it. But the new generation are moving faster across organisations — we must accept that talent is only ever borrowed. It is up to leaders to leverage talent, on loan or otherwise, and maximise the success of the team by facilitating contributions from everyone.

How can you ensure everyone contributes?

The goal is to create a team sub-culture where people feel comfortable contributing and where contributions are expected and valued. Within that space there is a sense of psychological safety — it inspires open creativity and challenge without judgement.

Charles Brook, Founder and Managing Partner at TPC Leadership, explains Walt Disney’s approach of getting the whole team together to think of creative ideas. “Everyone had a say, but no one could judge ideas as good or bad until they were all on the table.” Only then were ideas discussed.

As a leader, consider how you manage your meetings so that everyone has space to think and speak without feeling judged. 

Catherine Bardwell, TPC Associate Partner, suggests employing rotation leadership, where in some meetings different team members are encouraged to manage the agenda and take ownership of the meeting. “This creates a new type of energy, where different personalities can speak up.”

It’s important to know your team members. If you understand the different skills, strengths and personalities of your people, you can allocate roles that compliment each other, play to people’s strengths and experiences, and leverage innovative thinking.

Charles suggests working towards an outcome together. Ask, “what is the question we need to answer?” Share the responsibility as a team here. Once you’ve agreed on the question, ask everyone to contribute their thoughts around it.

Common pitfalls when leading teams

There is a danger of subconsciously being drawn to recruit and develop people like yourself. Catherine explains that this cloning culture can lead to elitism and must be avoided. It’s important to have a variety of characters and talent in your teams.  

While as a team leader you are ultimately responsible, it is not your job to know all the answers. Charles believes that, often, not knowing the answer, being vulnerable and valuing input from others is empowering for everyone. “Be open,” he says, “and be genuinely curious about what others think.”

A blame culture restricts growth. Instead, work to instil a coaching culture where feedback is constructive and fluid, and where questions are used to inspire people to dig deeper, develop and contribute.

If a new team member is quiet and reserved, it can be easy for their contributions to be lost. Arrange one-to-one sessions where you focus on helping them find their voice. Prior to team meetings, send out questions to allow less confident people to prepare what they will say. “This sets the scene for a positive meeting,” says Charles, “one where you hear from everybody.”

If you move to a different company there may be a tendency to assume that what worked in one organisation will work in another. But every business and team is different. “Take time to research and investigate the culture in your new environment,” says Catherine. “and adapt accordingly to get the best out of those people.” 

If you’d like to sign-up for our free virtual teams training modules you can register here.

To ensure you’re getting the best out of your teams, get in touch with TPC’s expert coaches.