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Do You Believe in Team Diversity? Important Teamwork Story

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Team Diversity – Pots – Team Effectiveness

Do you believe that a more diverse team leads to a more effective team? The following teamwork story powerfully illustrates how any member of a team can be an important contributor regardless of how unique or different he or she may be.

The story is told of an old and weathered Chinese water bearer who had hung two large pots on each end of a long pole that he carried across his neck to deliver water each day.

One pot had a fairly large crack and only delivered a small portion of water with each daily trip – about half a pot. The other was perfect and always delivered a full portion.

For two years the bearer only delivered one and a half pots of water to his house each day.

The perfect pot felt it had reason to brag in its accomplishments in doing exactly what it was made to do. The poor cracked pot felt ashamed that it was only able to accomplish half of what it had been created to do.

After two years of feeling ashamed, the crack pot mustered up the courage to talk to the water bearer. He said, “I am ashamed of myself. Because of this crack in my side I cause water to leak out all the way back to your house.”

The water bearer said in response to the pot, “Did you notice the flowers all the way down the side of your path? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and one day I planted flower seeds all along the side of your path. Every day when we walk back you’ve watered them. And now for two years you have provided beautiful flowers that I have been able to pick and decorate my table with.”

He said, “Without you being just the way you are, I wouldn’t have this beauty along this path or to grace my house.”

Have you ever thought what life would be like if each of us were good at exactly the same thing? I am personally thankful that we are unique! Each of us has been given and blessed with a unique set of gifts and talents.

Great leaders understand this. They understand that a diverse team can be a more effective team.

Every team member plays an important role in helping the team decide, create and execute. If they all have the same or similar gifts and talents, then the teams strength and possible greatness is limited.

Are you embracing diversity on your teams? Are you hiring diverse talent, or hiring people exactly like you or others on your team? Do you allow others to disagree with your ideas and bring different perspectives? Do you create a culture of healthy and productive conflict on your team? Are you striving to develop and continually identify the uniqueness of each member on your team?

I encourage and challenge each of us to work towards greater team diversity. As Ken Blanchard once said “None of us is as smart as all of us.” However, all of us collectively or on a team are only as smart as the differences in each of us.

Question: How has team diversity aided in your effectiveness on teams you have been a part of? Please comment below.

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  • Joseph Mullin February 25, 2013, 2:40 pm

    Michael,
    Excellent story for an analogy!

    I agree that a diverse team makes a better team. Along with the talent selection I also look at the individuals strengths and weakness. I will add another member to the team that will have a strength that will will compliment another’s weakness.
    This method has worked very well for me.

    Reply
    • Michael Rogers March 5, 2013, 5:48 pm

      Thanks Joseph!

      I do the same. I don’t want a lot of similar people to me on the team. Diversity creates strength.

      Mike

      Reply

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