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Deborah Levine

Deborah Levine | Maximizing Diverse Teams for Future Success

Deborah Levine

Deborah Levine Enterprises, LLC.

American Diversity Report

3624 Cline Road

Chattanooga, TN.  37412

Phone: (423) 805-4602

Maximizing Diverse Teams for Future Success

    Is innovation essential to your future goals but limited by dysfunctional teamwork? Is the flow of information in your workplace short-circuited in diverse teams not working well together?

     Thought Diversity is the key to planning your company’s future, implementing those plans, and reaching new, diverse markets. Being inclusive can give you the creativity needed, but In today’s divisive environment, inclusion can also generate tensions and surface implicit biases that makes teamwork unproductive.
     If you’re struggling to manage diverse teams and maximize their potential, here is my copyrighted 4-step Matrix Model Management System for moving forward.

Miscommunication and careless language can often lead to misunderstandings, damaging interpersonal communication and creating future grudges. To avoid these pitfalls, whether written or verbal, leaders can train themselves and their teams to communicate using storytelling strategies that have successfully built relationships for centuries.


  • Who: Be aware of whether you are speaking for yourself, the team or the company and adjust your style accordingly.
  • What: Be clear when stating your main agenda item, issue or problem. While you may want to be diplomatic, do not be vague.
  • When: Be aware of the timing of your communication so that the message is heard correctly. After hours and holidays will require adjustments.
  • Where: Understand the implications for formal vs. informal style based on your location. The company cafeteria, an individual’s office, and a major conference will all require different approaches.
  • Why: Focus on the desired end-result of your communication to avoid distractions.
  • Short Cuts: Using cultural expressions, idioms, and icons to demonstrate you point is a popular strategy. Understand the benefits as well as the downsides of these expressions.


Tensions between team members can interfere with the work of even the most experienced teams. How leaders deal with these tensions is central to how teams will react. By systematically measuring the emotional levels of team members and applying appropriate conflict management options, leaders can steer their teams through the conflict to a higher level of performance.

  • Emotion Metrics: Measure emotions on a 1-4 scale with 1 being peaceful and 4 being nightmare. Leaders should do this themselves before having teams do this together so that they can guide the process with confidence.
  • Beliefs & Ideas
  • Conflict Management: Outline 4 stages of conflict from avoidance to impasse and understand how they interact with Emotion Metrics. The resulting combination will enable conflict management at a higher level than expected and team participation in the process.

Begin looking at your team’s decision-making abilities with an assessment process. Too often, decisions don’t address the relevant question or the outcomes don’t match the intent.  Assessing the skills and talents of your teams enhances your ability to deploy them productively and boost their innovative collaboration. 

  • Knowledge base: Assess your team’s knowledge, training, and experience and decide what they know and what they need to know.
  • Trust level: Define the character of your team using terms such as responsibility, fairness, determination, dependability, accountability. Rate their performance in these areas to see what needs elevating. These are the elements that decide the level of trust you have in them. Also consider how you are perceived by the team and what you may need to elevate to increase their trust in you.
  • Vision/Mission: Review your company’s mission statement to see if it needs updating given your vision for the next 5-10 years. Engage your teams in the revision process so that there is buy-in by all involved in future plans.


Once your mission statement has been determined, the strategies used by urban planners are well-suited to organizing for the future. Whether short term or long term, these strategies are vital to a comprehensive plan. When blended sequentially with the first 3 steps of communication, emotional intelligence, and decision making, the plan has the ability to inspire and motivate to achieve the desired results. While teams may see the process as overwhelming at first, coaching leaders through the 4-steps and the Planning Elements will give them the necessary tools to guide teams through the process.

Planning Elements

  • Goals:

Set your goals for the next 3-5 years. Do not make the number of goals overwhelming. And don’t let the language ramble on or be vague. Your teams should be able to memorize each one of them as well as the mission itself. The mission is so basic to your success that they should be written on several workplace areas as reminders. Specific goals should be written and visible for the team that is assigned to work on those goals. Writing the plan and making that written version available is advisable for each of the plan’s elements.

  • Objectives:

Objectives are listed under each goal and are designed to be achieved in 1-2 years. Again, they should be clearly communicated and limited in number and include benchmarks by which results can be achieved.

  • Tasks:

Tasks are listed under objectives and can be immediate or several months in completion. Each task should include the individuals within the team who is responsible for oversight and completion.

  • Time Lines & Budgets:

Set the deadlines for tasks, objectives and benchmarks for each goal. At this point, you can determine the budget for each goal, and therefore, for the overall plan itself. Don’t try to guess the budget before going through the process. That will lead to more than the occasional tweak of the plan, and possibly failure of key parts of it.

  • Evaluation:

Plans should be assessed yearly at a minimum with a close look at benchmarks. Coaching of leaders during the evaluation periods can assist in determining what has worked and what has not. The assessment needs not only to review results, but to evaluate the communication, emotional intelligence and decision making aspects of the process that led to either the success or lack of success for each goal. Decisions going forward concerning goals, objectives, tasks, time lines and budget can then address the most fundamental element of successful innovation, the teams and their leaders.

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