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Why You Should Build a Powerful Diverse Team

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During my years in the music business, it became abundantly clear to me that to achieve what we wanted to accomplish, we had to have a diverse team to succeed. One would have thought the talent displayed in the musicians was all that was required. A great song easily found success, right? While it was true their abilities were the ones most evident to success, it was also the collection of all the team players that enabled us to flourish. When the individual talents were gathered and merged, it often reminded me of a big successful party. The end of the planning, execution, and delivery told all: either everyone had a good time, or if some part of the plan failed, the party bombed.

While other industries blend talents to accomplish their goals, the production and delivery of an art form made the need for diversity of abilities glaringly obvious. Like individual personalities planning for a big event, it also created friction.

It all begins with the Creator.

The initial delivery of any art form comes from the creator. In this case, that is a musician who was, well, creative. The unique nature of an individual who holds those talents, whether in music or a new invention, also determines if time and financial restraints clash with their creative process. These individuals primarily view their product through the prism of art or design, not as a product to be sold, marketed, or promoted. Putting them into any box, whether it was a deadline or budget, was challenging at best. It was a tough realization that to work in the field they loved, those realities had to be in play. It was “the how” that was by and large beyond the scope of their natural talents.

You’ve got to take care of business.

The business side ran on a timeline, legal parameters, and financial restraints to execute the sale and delivery of the creation. To begin the process, it required the dreaded lawyer, although I have to say that I worked with some wonderful ones. We needed those who possessed analytical and exacting talents to protect the creation. In party terms, they would be the individuals who reviewed the deals on the venue and the caterer and set the seating chart to make sure everything was set up ahead of time to have a great night.

It was the collection of all the team players that enabled us to flourish.

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Providing the fanfare.

The talents of the marketing team fell somewhere between the artistic and the more traditional business roles, like deadlines and budgeting. They possessed the ability to create a great marketing plan, design it, and execute it. Like designing and producing the invitation for a great party with the correct addresses and timely delivery, the marketing team had to ensure all elements were implemented to achieve the most significant impact.

Can’t forget the details.

The talents held in the accounting and financial departments of the music business always appeared to be the most polar opposite of the creative. It was often in meetings where all entities were participating that I felt like I was called upon to interpret between two individuals who spoke a different language.

When one would speak, the other had a blank stare and vice versa. Finance requires boxes to place things in and a structure that makes sense—rarely an emotional skill. Creativity is quite the opposite: the fluidity of thought, and emitting emotion and passion in the work they create. But like the control of the party budget, to prevent it from being blown on one great event, financial talents are essential to control the costs of the creation so the creator can survive to create again.

The buck stops here.

Finally, there is always the individual whose task is creating cohesion and guidance in the process. That duty lies within those whose natural abilities provide leadership. These are the people who are in charge, whose responsibility is to take each creation from concept to marketplace. It is their duty to identify, assemble, and encourage every talent in their diverse team. If it goes well, they often get more credit than they deserve, and if it goes poorly, they also get the blame.

They aren’t there merely to lord dominance; instead, their role is that of a cheerleader, supporter, and even a disciplinarian. When the process gets off track, it is theirs to set right. If it’s running too fast, it’s theirs to slow down. And if it’s going too slow, it’s theirs to speed up. They are tasked with the big picture, championing the beginning of the process and envisioning the end. Like the one who states, “We’re going to have a party,” they identify the people who should attend, assign and oversee tasks, and finalize it by being the party’s emcee. Their responsibility is ultimately the event itself, and making sure that it’s a good night.

When it’s all working together the magic happens.

Each of these roles is vital. Missing any one of these essential talents when having a goal to accomplish will short-change the outcome. Not recognizing the worth and importance of each person and the skills they bring saps the strength from the final product. To succeed, it requires that we offer respect and appreciation to all those involved.

What is right in the music business or the successful execution of a party is the same in every workplace. You may doubt that your talent has worth. I say that is entirely untrue! No matter where you land in the talent spectrum, you are indispensable. Even though the performers received the applause, signed the autographs, and were recognized in airports, their role was no more important than the rest of the team. The reason they had the privilege of standing on that stage and sharing their craft was that they surrounded themselves with a group of individuals whose talents were different than theirs. It was through that diversity that they could accomplish things they were not capable of on their own.

So, wherever life takes you, whether that’s in the workplace, volunteering, or attending to family responsibilities, surround yourself with a diverse team. They will make you better, you will make them better, and the final product will be one worth celebrating. And remember this: it could never have been done without you!


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Darlene, President of The Grit and Grace Project, is crazy enough to jump in the deep end then realize she may not have a clue where she’s landed. She has spent her adult life juggling careers in the music business, been an author, a video producer, and also cared for her family ... some days drowning, other days believing she’s capable of synchronized swimming.

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