How to manage diverse teams

Wow!  Olin’s faculty members are doing some amazing research.

At our first Praxis luncheon this year, Professor Andrew Knight presented his research on how to effectively lead teams with diverse values.

Most of us think of diversity in terms of demographics, or skill sets.  Professor Knight and his team found that we really need to be thinking about diversity of values – because teams with similar values need to be managed much differently than teams with differing values, in order to maximize team performance.

When team members’ values differ, there is a high risk of conflict.  Managers of these teams can either provide structured, task based leadership, or they can provide person-focused leadership.  Professor Knight found that when managers provided task-focused leadership, teams with a high values variance vastly outperformed (and with less conflict) similar teams receiving person-focused leadership.

When team members’ values were similar, both leadership styles resulted in good performance, although the person-focused managers had slightly better outcomes.

This research is truly relevant to business, across all industries and functions, and certainly has changed the way I look at diversity in teams!

Murray Weidenbaum, Richard Mahoney, and Andrew Knight

Murray Weidenbaum, Richard Mahoney, and Andrew Knight

The Praxis luncheon series was designed to help put the relevant, cutting-edge research of Olin’s faculty in the hands of business leaders who can apply its findings to benefit their own organizations.

Sponsored by Olin’s Distinguished Executive in Residence, Richard J. Mahoney, the luncheon series is part of a broader effort to foster meaningful, mutually beneficial interaction between Olin’s faculty and the corporate community.

Praxis 2013 cover

 

Read a summary of Prof. Knight’s research paper in the new issue of Praxis: Research that Impacts Business.

In Business & Research
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