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Individuals Create Abundant Opportunities on a Team

Individuals Create Abundant Opportunities on a Team

Opportunities stem from the diversity, strengths, and shortcomings found within teams.

The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” can be tweaked slightly to apply to business, as “It takes a team to achieve success.”

The key to creating a more positive and influential work environment is recognizing the opportunities each individual brings. Leaders must understand that each employee’s individual contribution to a team leads to the end result, which would be impossible to achieve without them.

Individual members create opportunities on a team. They all bring their unique characteristics and work with others in order to solidify results. So, when leaders realize that their organizational culture is their people, they can leverage their team’s individual diversity, strengths, and shortcomings to create further opportunities.

Supporting Diversity to Create Opportunities

Even if you can’t see it on the surface, your team is diverse. They have different hobbies, values, personalities, and so much more. Leaders should expand their minds regarding diversity to cultivate the opportunities that stem from it. While several studies have proven that leaders who embrace diversity reap rewards — such as decreased turnover and increased bottom lines — supporting diversity can create several opportunities for teams.

When leaders encourage their teams to look deeper at what makes them and others diverse, it can create a domino effect of individuals who feel comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work. This builds a team who brings all their strengths and shortcomings, which is exactly what leaders need. When you fully understand who you’re working with and what they bring to the table, including all that makes them diverse, it’s easier to work with that person and leverage their and others’ strengths to achieve goals. Supporting diversity shows your team that you’re open-minded and accepting of the human condition, which is that not everyone is perfect.

Using Coaching to Create Opportunities

Everyone has shortcomings and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Some may have difficulty being on time, while others may have a need for control. The difficulty with shortcomings is when they’re hidden from you. You may be unaware of what you’re working with. Encouraging team members to be authentic, and to show you their strengths as well as their weaknesses, allows leaders to work with each team member to help them continue building their strengths and to coach them through their shortcomings so they don’t become a detriment to the whole team.

Coaching team members to help them understand how to work with their shortcomings will create a more gratifying culture for all. Sometimes one employee’s shortcomings, if left unaddressed, can make another employee feel undervalued and untrusted. For example, a team member who feels the need to be in control may need coaching so as not to develop micromanaging or authoritarian tendencies. Coaching team members on their shortcomings to help them develop tools so they can be held accountable is vital to growing opportunities on a team. Plus, when people come to terms with their shortcomings, they will start looking to work with other team members who have strengths that can offset their shortcomings.

Leveraging Strengths to Create Opportunities

Just as we all have shortcomings, we all have strengths, too, and shortcomings shouldn’t be the focus. While it’s important to coach on how to temper team members’ shortcomings so they don’t disrupt others, leveraging strengths is equally, if not more, important. When team members understand what they do well and how they contribute to the team, they feel empowered in their role. They feel valued — and when people feel valued, they tend to treat others well and value diversity. Creating opportunities comes full circle when you allow people to be authentic in a safe space.

Additionally, when team members know their strengths, as well as their shortcomings, they can assist other team members who may require those strengths at certain times. For example, if a team member is known for being great at prioritizing tasks, others who may have difficulty with prioritizing may come to them for advice. Or, if one team member makes great decisions quickly, those who may suffer from analysis paralysis may gain their buy-in to move a project forward and lose less time. Creating a culture where people use each other’s strengths and remain compassionate towards shortcomings is how abundant opportunities are created.

The key to creating opportunities and leveraging diversity, strengths, and shortcomings is to have open discussions about each of them. If the only person on the team who knows this information is the leader, that doesn’t help the team. Fostering a culture of transparency and kind communication is the key to leveraging your team’s individual members. Each person is important and brings something to the table to help move the team forward, reach goals, help other team members, and create overall success.

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by Brian Smith // Brian Smith, PhD, is founder and senior managing partner of IA Business Advisors, a management consulting firm that has worked with more than 18,000 CEOs, entrepreneurs, managers and employees worldwide. Together with his daughter, Mary Smith, he has authored his latest book, Individual Advantages: Be the “I” in Team (BookBaby, March 2, 2021). Learn more at

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.