Uncovering the hidden potential

Through personal interactions we can uncover the hidden potential within each member of your team. By Shireen Chua.

Teams come in different sizes and shapes. In today’s teams, the cultural diversity is greater than you think.

Too often, our first response to the question: how culturally diverse are your teams? is that we’re not very diverse at all.

While your team may not look diverse, cultural diversity is much more than the visible diversity such as age, gender and ethnicity.

The hidden parts of cultural diversity are the experiences, values, beliefs and world views everyone has. What’s more, these hidden parts of culture are learned from the different groups we belong to. In every team, every member is a uniquely wired cultural human being.

The amazing thing about this is when we realise this, we can unlock the potential of each member of the team to contribute to the team’s potential to be the best team it can be.

When the hidden diversity of all of the team’s members is discovered and valued, they have the potential to become a high-performing team.

When hidden diversity is ignored, it can also result in misunderstanding and conflict within the team. Developing your culturally diverse team requires you to uncover what is hidden and to create space for the diversity of thought and values to contribute to the team.

This happens when we relate to one another.

The time taken to build relationships with curiosity will help us to not only discover the other person’s values, beliefs, experiences and worldviews, but to discover ourselves in the process.

It also helps us to challenge our assumptions and perceptions of the people in our team.

Shireen Chua

Asking questions to discover what is important as well as why someone does what they do provides the opportunity to interact at a deeper level. It is through these interactions that you will uncover the hidden potential within each member of your team.

Their experiences, personalities, cultural values and worldviews can bring different perspectives and approaches to the challenges and work that your team faces every day.

Knowing about this hidden potential equips you to encourage and empower the members of your team to use their talents.

Creating a safe space to contribute requires trust to be strengthened. This takes time and inter-cultural intelligence to ensure that everyone is heard, seen and respected. Developing intercultural intelligence requires you to create a new cultural space to facilitate win-win solutions. A litmus test for how you develop culturally diverse teams is to ensure that you are doing what is right, what is honourable and empowering all together.

It’s not enough to have one of these three but rather, when all three of these statements are true, you will be developing a culturally diverse team where everyone is heard, seen and respected.