Diversity with unity builds strong teams.

Perhaps you’ve heard of—or been part of—an organization that will prolong discussions on critical issues and move ahead only when there’s complete agreement. While the image of everyone voting “yes” might seem like a worthy objective, there’s a case to be made for healthy and frequent disagreement between members of your team.

If your team sings Kumbaya at every meeting, you have a problem. If two or more people always agree on everything, at least one them is redundant.

ON JESUS’ TEAM

Peter and Paul disagreed fiercely over issues facing the early church, yet God blessed them both. Lack of diversity results in incestuous amplification, a situation where people with shared opinions and perspectives feed off one another and become convinced their ideas are correct. Without the benefit of a contrary view, members of the team amplify their positions to unreasonable conclusions.

Jesus knew that populating a team with differing opinions and approaches is the best way to take advantage of God’s incredible creative genius. In creating His team, Jesus chose Matthew, a tax collector for Rome, and Simon, who, as a Zealot, was dedicated to the violent overthrow of Rome. We can’t know the mind of Jesus, but His choice speaks to the value of extreme diversity and difference of opinion. Can you imagine the discussion Matthew and Simon had about how to spend money?

Near the end of John 17, Christ entreats God to bring unity among His followers. It’s important to note that He doesn’t ask God to make them all the same but rather that they would have the same objectives, despite their differences.

THE VALUE OF BEING DIFFERENT

We aren’t created differently because God became bored with one model and decided to try something else. We are diverse because God—in His infinite wisdom—knows that our differences will add to the mosaic in tangible ways that no other combination of personalities can. When we demand that everyone march in lock step to a singular opinion, we’re an affront to the creativity of the One who made us all different in the first place.

So, what criteria should you have for selecting members of your team? Look around the table: On a scale with diversity on one end and sameness on the other, how does your team stack up? Do you have a Matthew and a Simon? When was the last time someone on your team was passionately opposed to one of your ideas? Did you praise or shun them?

When you put an important team together, look for people who don’t come from the same place as you. Hire from outside your organization or industry. Instead of asking, “Are we all in agreement on this?” look around the room and challenge someone to disagree: “Come on, there must be at least one of you who has a different idea.”

If the people you manage have become a group of yes-men, try shaking things up. God went wild when He created the heavens and the Earth. Human beings are the crowning glory of His creativity. God made every one of us unique for a reason.

—Jim Seybert