How to leverage the healthy differences in your team as a competitive advantage
Authored by the Horizon37 Team.
Our new Difference Bootcamp programme is the fastest way to capture the benefits of healthy differences within your business, using the famous Dimensions of Difference exercise.
Partnering with us, we will work with your leadership team to uncover a balanced way to get the very best from healthy differences in teams and leveraging diversity and difference as a competitive advantage, by leaning into some discomfort and challenging the boundaries and assumptions behind the exercise.
Here is insight, tips and guidance from people who have experience with the programme. Read below to proliferate the benefits in your business.
The Difference as Advantage module is delivered in many of the H37 programmes, and these are some of the outcomes we’ve observed through the teams that have done this module:
- Articulate your specific business case and challenges of leveraging diversity.
- Explore which Dimensions of DifferenceTM already exist and could be most relevant and valuable in your business.
- Appreciate different perspectives and uncover un-tapped value.
- Shed light on behaviours that transpire when people experience discrimination.
- Plan how to achieve a competitive advantage by making more of the diversity and range of differences in your business.
DoD is a pivotal and experiential exercise we set up years ago that gets 5/5 feedback every time we deliver it. It turns the fear and uncertainty of the individual experience into a positive asset.
Participants report that the DoD exercise challenges them to:
- Create a strong understanding of their own strengths
- Articulate the benefits and value of their strengths
- Broaden their appreciation of different styles, strengths and preferences inherent in the teams and groups they work in
- Develop a more healthy “default high regard” for difference in other people
- Overcome fear or judgement of difference
- Create a space to rethink their opinions of others
- Notice when cognitive shortcuts have them conflate something easy to observe or assume with something unambiguously required for performance (e.g. Confidence with competence), and get better atan untangling them
Over the past 7 years, Horizon37 Leadership Partners have delivered the DoD exercise 46 times for teams and cohorts on our programmes.
Here, we put together a checklist for those intrepid leaders wishing to disseminate the learning further into their businesses.
This article is prompted by requests from RAEng’s Cohort 6, currently taking part in H37’s Transform Together programme – this is a group of planet changing entrepreneurs, selected for their ambition and for having created technologies that can impact society and scale fast commercially. As part of the programme, they receive leadership support by Horizon37 to give a huge boost at a critical stage in their growth journeys.
We always appreciate the inevitable commitment by DoD participants to then transfer learnings to their teams. Our whole raison d’etre is to deliver results for businesses we work with, so this opportunity for catalytic impact is delightful.
However, we have seen that the “facilitation magic” we have honed to generate the conditions for DoD to work is difficult for non-specialists to replicate. We fear for the pitfalls leaders have fallen into when attempting to create the quality of conversation they have experienced with us.
POTENTIAL PITFALLS TO AVOID:
- Labelling people rather than listening to how they are feeling
- The facilitator prescribing categories of difference
- Participants coming up with a theoretical framework where they sit on the mid-point rather than at either end of the axis
- Looking for correctness – e.g. Judging or dismissing the differences that an individual expresses
- Thinking there is a right answer that “should” be on the list
- Not actively doing the exercise through physical participation
The best option is to get an experienced Horizon37 Leadership Professional to facilitate this exercise. If you want to initiate an internal conversation first, here are some tips:
Create a BESPOKE framework
- Reflecting the individual differences within the particular group
- On which participants articulate their own difference and define the spectrum
- Using the precise words the participant uses
Foster curiosity and open end the conversion, by coaching participants to:
- Consider the value of all parts, including but not only their own
- Speculate as to how a group where everyone stands on one spot would operate
- State what they think they need from others at varying points along the axis
- Play back what they are hearing that’s new from each other
- Catch themselves when they overtly or covertly put their own position as “the best” with the rest as an acceptable compromise (or vice versa)
- Be open to hear something new
Horizon37 designs and delivers leadership programmes for exec and non-exec teams and individuals ready to step-up their leadership, enabling them to succeed in breaking new ground.
If you are interested in learning more about leadership and the Horizon37 method, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.
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