How well do you know your team? I mean really know them. Most leaders and businesses believe team culture will happen organically. When was the last time you evaluated your team, the individuals on your team, relationships and diversity?  Sometimes our focus is mostly spent on the business, taking care of customers and increasing profits rather than our people.

Your people and team are your most valuable resource, but if you’re not careful, they can become your biggest headache! What makes all the difference? It is “Unity”. A unified team is unstoppable. Your job as a leader is to create and guard a culture where diversity, inclusion and unity can happen. Few organizations experience true unity, but unity is essential because a unified team is more efficient and effective, results in limited turnover, reinforces your mission, is diverse and achieves more.

Get to Know Your People:

Diversity means understanding that each individual is unique and recognizing individual differences. It is the exploration in getting to know your people and their differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It’s about understanding each other and moving beyond tolerance to embrace, celebrate and unify around the differences.

Diversity includes knowing how to relate to those qualities that are different from our own and are outside the groups to which we belong. So how do you work towards creating unity through diversity? It starts with knowing your team. Make sure you have a system in place to get to know every one of your team members because all of your team members are different! Make sure you get to know what those differences are.

As a hotel resort leader with the Disney Company for over a decade, I made it a point to meet each week, with every direct report on my team, one-on-one. I used this time to not only discuss operations but mostly to get to know more about them. I would also make the time to randomly meet with front line staff, informally, to check the pulse of the team environment and culture. The objective was to:

  • Get to know and learn about their background and family.
  • Get to know what their career aspirations are.
  • Get to know them so you can spot the potential in them that they may not even know they have.
  • Get to know them to identify how their diversity could bring value to the rest of the team and business.
  • Get to know what was important to them.

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Stop and Listen.

Part of getting to know your people, is making sure you are a good listener. One of the greatest skills of a leader is the ability to actually listen. Many businesses and leaders fail because team members often feel undermined, ignored, and dismissed. When you better understand your employees’ experiences, you can effectively meet their needs. When you decide what type of culture you want, listening to your team will help to cultivate that.

Leveraging the strength of a diverse team is getting their unique voices to the table. Once people are at the table, it’s important to create an inclusive environment where they can openly share their thoughts and perspectives. This requires effort on the part of the leader to maintain an open, safe and respectful communication environment with their team.

There’s no right or wrong way to go about this. It can be as simple as having a one-on- one conversation, chatting with your team during breaks or having an open-door policy. You could even hold more town hall-style meetings that encourage everyone to speak up.

John’s Golf Cart Chats

At Disney, one of the most effective ways that I used to meet with my staff and team was to do it away from the office. I wanted my employees to feel comfortable and relaxed. While managing by walking around, I would grab a golf cart at the resort, randomly pick an employee and ask them to take a ride with me for a few minutes. We would ride around the grounds of the resort, chatting, getting to know each other and sharing insight. It was not only very effective in getting to know them and being a good listener, it was also rewarding and fun. These individual relationships I built with my staff, proved to be very valuable in creating a unified team culture.

I believe, that to ensure everyone on the team feels included, heard and recognized, your team and people should feel comfortable speaking up where appropriate and necessary. This environment will not only help benefit people from underrepresented groups, they actually benefit everyone and create a stronger team overall. Unity and a strong diverse team culture is a byproduct of communication, listening and obtaining feedback.

Teams are made up of unique individuals with unique talents. Know what those talents are, allow for feedback and put them to work to strengthen your team culture. The more you know about your team members, the better your operation will perform. Create an environment where everyone matters and they know that they matter.

It’s not magic, but it will feel like it to your team. Want help? Contact Coach John for a FREE Strategy Session at