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Keeping a Diverse Team United in Polarized Times

By September 21, 2021January 24th, 2022No Comments

What did it take for a diverse team to work well together through 2020 into 2021?

We six are all officers on the team of a senior executive responsible for the daily operations and strategies of the U.S. Army. But apart from our military training and functional roles, we are decidedly different.

  • Rich, initiatives group deputy director, is a Black man hailing from central Florida with a background in business management, data analytics, and artillery operations. He has lived in Uijeongbu, South Korea.
  • Kelly, legislative assistant, is a white woman from central Pennsylvania trained in journalism and political science, as well as medical service. She has spent time in Izmir, Turkey.
  • Sean, acquisition planner, is an Asian man who grew up in a military family and studied engineering and consumer banking. He has lived in Fussa, Japan.
  • Will, executive planner, is a Black man and a native of southeast Michigan with a background in urban geography, maneuver operations, organizational communications. He has lived in Grafenwoehr, Germany.
  • Erick, executive speechwriter, is a white man from central Oklahoma who has a background in business management, advanced military studies and strategic messaging. He has lived in Poznan, Poland.
  • Isaac, public relations officer, is a Black man also from a military family who serves as our resident psychology and communications expert. He ministers in countries around the world, and has lived in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

We’re a mix of extraverts and introverts, we range in age from 34 to 47, and our political and religious affiliations and family situations vary.

And yet our group came though the past 18 months — a period defined by global pandemic, a bitterly divisive national election, and civil unrest in the United States — more connected than ever. No question: Working with a diverse group can be more challenging than contributing to a more homogenous one. There are more opportunities for misunderstanding and conflict, especially in times when personal, professional, and societal tensions are running high. However, as our experience shows, these hurdles are easily overcome with intentional leadership and teamwork. Here are a few lessons we learned during last year and this one.