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WOMEN: GENDER DIVERSITY AND EQUALITY


What are 3 essentials to teamwork? Leadership, diversity, communication

By Kathryn Ross, Managing Director, Accenture Technology, Chicago
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Kathryn Ross
Have you ever been on a team that just clicked? Team morale was high, project work flowed easily, all challenges were handled naturally and seamlessly. Sounds like a fantasy, right? Well, it happens more often than you think, but there are several key factors to this kind of success—leadership, diversity and communication.
After 23 years with global professional services company Accenture, I’ve been on all kinds of engagements—chaotic, light and fun, the painful slog, and so on. The good news is that I left all of the engagements with lifelong friendships and lots of lessons learned. But, let’s be honest, I didn’t get along with everyone, and I didn’t expect to. However, I did learn a lot about the makeup of successful teams.

LEADERSHIP: EVERYTHING HINGES ON THE LEADERSHIP OF THE TEAM AS IT SETS THE TONE.


If the team leader is welcoming and supportive of a diverse team and has a vision for the project, they foster an environment of inclusiveness and collaboration.

Great leadership creates a kind of energy, a vibe that can permeate the team and bring folks together…or not.

But that’s just the first part of the equation. The people and network you surround yourself with as a leader bring their own strengths and balance your weaknesses.

DIVERSITY: AT THE RIGHT COMPANY, YOU FIND AN AMALGAMATION OF DIVERSE SKILLS, CULTURES, GENDERS AND THOUGHTS.


Accenture, for example, is a true melting pot where the right mix creates connection within a team. Our internal talent review system, which we call Performance Achievement, really changes the game in terms of promoting, owning and understanding your strengths and the strengths of your team.

When you can bring that insight to your job, differentiation and value become more than just words.

COMMUNICATION: THIS ELEMENT IS THE GLUE THAT HOLDS EVERYTHING TOGETHER.


Most challenges are a result of conversations–easy, hard, awkward, etc.–that don’t happen when they should.

Setting the standards of communication early sets the tone for the team.

Those are my three key priorities for great teamwork. So let’s talk about what YOU can do to help make teamwork a reality.

First, know thyself. Often, when you get into trouble, it’s because you aren’t being true to yourself. My most recent misstep in leading and managing a diverse team was erring on the side of helping a friend instead of looking at the role and knowing that it wasn’t something I was motivated to do. That's never going to end well, and I learned my lesson. When you recognize a role misfit, say, "No."

Next is to use your network. If you surround yourself with people who support you, individuals whose strength bolster your weaknesses and—bottom line—a community you like, you will more than likely be successful. But don’t forget to give others a chance. Diversity of thought is key to innovation, and, to learn and grow, you have to be willing to build that bridge to potential new or unknown resources with different backgrounds, cultures and experiences.

Understanding your own role, ensuring the roles and people complement each other, and being open to new ideas and ways of doing things breeds success. At the end of the day, you will have a whole lot of fun doing it.

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