Building a Diverse Team (Part 1)

Do you ever have trouble gaining the right perspective in your business, your leadership, or your life? When you possess an accurate perspective, you can more easily identify key problems and, more importantly, identify key solutions in your leadership. But perspective isn’t gained alone. You need people on your team who think, look, and act differently than you do. You need diversity on your team.

This week on the Maxwell Leadership Podcast, we begin a new series on building a diverse team. That’s because diversity is an asset to any leader that wants to create powerful, positive change in their organization or community. In part one of this series, John Maxwell shares the barriers that often get in the way of building diverse teams.

During the application portion of the episode, Mark Cole and Chris Goede discuss John’s lesson and how the fear of conflict can get in the way of building diverse teams. If you want to build and unleash an all-star team in your organization, you do not want to miss this series.

Our BONUS resource for this series is the “Building a Diverse Team Worksheet,” which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.


Mark Cole:

Welcome to the Maxwell Leadership Podcast, the podcast that adds value to leaders who multiply value to others. My name is Mark Cole, and we are so glad you're here with us today.

This week, we are beginning a series on building a diverse team. Diversity is an asset when it comes to leadership, but most leaders, they're more comfortable surrounding themselves with people, really, that's just like them.

So, in part one, John Maxwell will teach us some of the barriers that get in the way of building a diverse team, then next week, we'll learn the benefits of building a diverse team. So after John's lesson today, my co-host Chris Goede and I will be back to discuss John's teaching and offer some application. So be sure to stick around, keep your notepad out.

Each week we have a bonus resource, which is a fill-in-the-blank PDF that accompanies John's lesson. If you would like to download that resource, please go to and click the bonus resource button.

That's it. Get ready to be impacted and challenged.

Now, here is John Maxwell.

John Maxwell:

For some people, the topic of diversity in the workplace brings to mind awkward, unnecessary hoops that must be jumped through in the name of political correctness, or diversity training days, or quotas. But other leaders see it as the smartest way to build a world class team, and when properly led, motivated at least, a diverse team of professionals can give your leadership team an uncommon advantage over your competitors.

There's a book I would encourage you to read, if you've never read it, it's a long book, it's thick, it's over 700 pages, but, trust me, if you read it, you'll be glad you did. It's entitled A Team of Rivals, and it's about Abraham Lincoln and his presidency, and the cabinet that he led that was amazingly diverse. Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote this book. Anything she writes, I read. She's a phenomenal historian, does great with biographies.

And in this book, A Team of Rivals, it talks about how Abraham Lincoln purposely chose political adversaries to be part of his cabinet, totally opposite of anything that you could imagine in politics in America today. And he purposely asked people that disagreed with him, people that had run against him as president, people that, politically, were as diverse from him as could be possibly imagined. He brought them in on the cabinet, because he basically said "The Civil War is so crucial to America, that I cannot afford to have people around me that just make me comfortable. I've got to bring people around me that are going to challenge me because we have to have, not my preferred answers, but the best answers."

And when I finished reading that book, when I write a book that means a lot to me, I write a note at the end of the book. And I wrote a note at end the book, and basically I wrote in the book, "If you ever had to handle stuff that was difficult and diverse, if you ever had to lead during a crisis, if you ever had to place yourself beneath a higher cause, and if you ever had to carry the mental leadership with dignity, this book is a must read." I signed it on November the ninth, 2008.

The thing that amazed me about that book is the fact that Abraham Lincoln understood as a leader, his goal wasn't to get everybody to think like him, his goal was to get everybody to think what was best for the challenge before them. A lot of leaders, selfishly, prefer to have people that would just think how they think and give them what they want instead of giving what is best.

If you're a leader, it's not about you, and it's never been about you. In fact, let me say this, when you're a leader and it's about you, you're beginning to take advantage of leadership, because leadership was never designed to be about you. Leadership was always designed to be about others. Leadership was never designed for what's best for me, it was always designed for what's best for the people.

And so, therefore, when you think of diversity, the reason for diversity in teams is because you, as a leader, I, as a leader, need people around me that can truly help me lead the people, correctly. But there are a lot of barriers, there are a lot of barriers and hindrances to having diverse teams. And I'm going to just give you some. Some of these, we'll just go through quickly because they're easy for you to grab hold. Some are a little bit more difficult and we may spend a little time, but let me just give them to you. And when I give them to you, they'll make sense to you. You'll say, "Of course, I've seen that happen."

The question I want you to ask yourself is not, have you seen it happen, the question I want you to ask yourself is, "Is this me? Okay, is this me?" Because I can tell you, the reason I have this list is because about everything I'm going to share with you, in a time in my life, was me, when my leadership wasn't mature, and my leadership wasn't what I wanted it to be, or what it needed to be.

So number one, for example, is fear of conflict. A diverse team will naturally generate differences of opinion, perspective, and worldview that can lead to conflict. And what I have discovered is this, a leader that doesn't like conflict won't want diversity as a team, because it's just not going to be, the opinions are not going to be, always what your opinions, what you want to have. And in your notes, I just have a little place where for you to fill in the blank, fear of conflict limits our potential.

The greatest limit upon a leader's potential, I think, is conflict, because that leader then doesn't allow the people to come around him or her that can help them. And an example of that is marriage. What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility. Differences that existed before marriage are intensified when we live with them.

Let me just stop there. Can I hear an amen on that? Amen.

Isn't it amazing? You get attracted to this person because they're different than you, and you say, "Oh, I like that, they're different than me. They add this to me and oh, this is going to be so wonderful." And then you get married and say, "Dear God, I don't like these differences in this person." Isn't it amazing? What attracts us, repels us. It's really true. That's just exactly the way it works.

And so the differences that existed before marriage are intensified when we live with them. It doesn't get less, folks. Trust me, if you're thinking about getting married, you just think about that. You may want to think again. We come from different backgrounds, possess our own personality, see the world from a unique perspective, and are the unfortunate owners of irritating habits. Isn't it irritating that your mate has those irritating habits, and don't you wish they were like you? Because you have no irritating, but boy, they do, don't they? And don't you wish you could just get them fixed? We don't think alike, we don't respond to life alike, or act alike, and it can be very frustrating. Rather than allowing that relationship to get tied up in knots, learn to loosen the noose a bit. And you don't loosen the noose a bit to hang them either, so let's qualify that.

Now, let me just say this. If there's conflict, it means you're alive. In fact, the only time you and I won't have conflict is when we die, and then we may have other issues that we don't want to talk about right now. But it's part of leadership, and it's part of life. Today I understand that conflict is not only important in leadership, it's vital. It's essential. I promise you there's not a thinker in this room, that's a good enough thinker, that shouldn't have somebody come up against you and challenge your thinking. And if you think you're so good that you don't need to be challenged, you don't need to be at a leadership conference, you're on drugs, you need therapy. There are places I can send you, but not to me, that will help you with the delusion that you have in your own life. That's essential.

Number two. The second reason that I think is quite common which is a barrier to diverse teams, is just an insufficient personal network. In other words, take an honest look at your peers, your friends, your colleagues. If most of the people you know look like you, vote like you, and love the same music as you, you need to be busy expanding your network.

Now, we are most comfortable with people like us, but, in leadership, your goal isn't to be most comfortable. Your goal is to be most effective. And I discovered very early in leadership, that if I was going to be a good leader, I had to go to places that I didn't normally go to, and talk to people that I would not normally mix with, to be able to get insights and thoughts that would never come to me if I stayed in my own group. If you're only in your world, you're not in a big enough world yet. And you need to get out of that world. But here's what I found out about this one. You have to be very intentional in doing this.

The third barrier is that sometimes we're unwilling to challenge our own prejudices. Unfortunately, prejudices are still thriving in today's workplace. Some are racial, gender, otherwise. And when you lump people of any type into one bag, box, stereotype, you miss out on one of God's great gifts, and that is the diversity of people.

I didn't want you to miss this little illustration. It's only a two sentence one, so I put it in there for your notes because, again, this lesson goes out to thousands and thousands of people, and I use it for teaching purposes. But the world is like a hand, and all the people its fingers. And if you hate, destroy, one group of people, you lose a finger, and the grasp of the world is less. And I think that is such a great illustration.

If you think of the world as the hand, and every one of these diverse groups is a finger, boy, you just can't afford to lose a finger. You can't grasp what you need to grasp. You can't hold on to what you need to hold on, if you lose it. And when I speak on leadership, I still find prejudices. In fact, when I was on my last trip, when we did Q and A, one of the ones that come up to me quite often, especially in some countries over others, is women in leadership. Do you think a woman could really lead? In fact, my personal feeling is that I think women are naturally better leaders than men, because I think the core ingredient to great leadership is relationships, because I think leadership is influence, and the ability to influence people is so key to leading people.

You cannot lead somebody that you cannot influence, and I think that women have a natural relationship skill that most men do not have. And I think leading becomes very natural to them, where sometimes for guys it isn't. Now I not trying to do the male, female gender thing at all. The point of it is prejudices, if we have those issues, we're going to have a hard time on diversity of teams, because we're going to keep people off because we don't feel they should be on our team.

Number four is arrogance. Some leaders are so confident in the sufficiency of their own genius that they can't begin to imagine how people unlike them could add value to their work. And so, basically, they just have almost a sense of arrogance. "I know the answers."

Another barrier is personal insecurities, and this is huge, personal insecurities. If you're uncomfortable around people who are significantly different from you, others will sense it and be reluctant to join your endeavor. Insecurity is a terrible thing in a leader's life, because it's the lid. You've heard me talk about the leadership lid in leadership, and how we all have a leadership lid and our potential. You've seen me do the illustration. You can't rise above your own ability to lead. The leadership lid, in a lot of people's lives, is their insecurity.

Let me just say this, I have never known a long lasting, enduring, successful, insecure leader. Now, there may be somebody out there that is, but what happens is, if you are full of insecurities, those insecurities will sooner, usually more than later, undermine you. Well, insecurities keep us from having people that are diverse of ours, because again, insecure people cannot handle conflict, and they cannot handle somebody that would have a different opinion. And it's just the lid that we put on ourselves.

Now, those are some barriers of building a diverse team.

Mark Cole:

Welcome back.

Wasn't that an incredible lesson?

I'm telling you, Chris, I'm already ready for part two. Can we get there? I'm ready. Don't make me wait a week.

Hey, thanks for joining us, all of you podcast listeners, just literally tens of thousands of you every single week. And then for those of you now viewing us YouTube, and taking in the visual aesthetics, my eye candy, my buddy, my pal, Chris Goede is in the studio with us today. And, Chris, we're doing this and I'm thankful.

I'm listening to this lesson and go, "Wow, we have so far to go, yet we have come a long way in creating diversity in our team."

So I'm glad to have you on the team today.

Chris Goede:

This is something that I'm so glad we're talking about, because this is so relevant.

And one of my roles here for you is to be in corporate America every day on an organizational cultures, and this is an issue. This is something that needs to be talked about. We need to talk about the barriers that are keeping these organizations, and these leaders and these people from developing to the capacity of which they can. And this is one of the reasons so, absolutely love talking about this.

Mark Cole:

What's funny is, Chris, and I didn't even think about this in the pre-show conversation that we had, but tomorrow you and I will spend, what, six hours with Valorie Burton.

Chris Goede:

That's right.

Mark Cole:

And by the way, if you don't know Valerie Burton, you need to Google Valorie Burton.

She's one of our Maxwell Leadership thought leaders. She speaks on our stages. She's one of our coaches in our mentorship program. But Valorie Burton, tomorrow, will talk to us and share with us on how to become resilient, how to bring a better, bigger, broader spectrum to our thinking.

So, we're not just talking about it today, man. We're living it tomorrow. I'm really excited about it.

Chris Goede:

So here's where I want to jump in and start.

I love the statement that John said, as leaders, we don't need the preferred answer, we need the best answer. And if we're not aware of these barriers, we're not going to allow our leadership, our development, our teams to get the best answers.

And John starts off by talking about a book that I know has had a big impact on your life. Matter of fact, you share with our leadership team, often, in the beginning of the year, what your personal development plan is, the books you'll be reading, and what you'll be doing. And this Team of Rivals back, I think it was in 2021, as the first book out of the year. And I love how he referenced this, Doris is an incredible author, you guys have spent some time with her.

Talk a little bit about the impact, from a diversity standpoint, that that book had on you and your leadership.

Mark Cole:

Well for years I've been running John's leadership team, it's been John's, he's vetted everyone that we put on the team. And now I feel myself responsible to build the team that's going to help me accomplish this vision that I'm chasing, that I'm inspiring us to pursue.

And I found myself, as I read this book, again, I read it one other time, but I wanted to pick it back up, you're right, in 2021, because I realized that what President Lincoln was trying to do was, literally, as polarizing as mask or no mask, COVID or no COVID, stay at home, or work from home, or be in the all office, or some of the more newer things that we're dealing with. DEI, and some of the things in the educational system.

Yesterday, I was it with my incredible friend, just, I promise you, this is a leader that is truly making a difference, Molly Spearman. She's over all the education system in South Carolina, and now has been asked to influence every educational leader in the United States. And as she began to share with me how people are polarized on whether we teach history, or we don't teach history, how we frame history, or how we shouldn’t frame history, I have come to believe, podcast listeners and video viewers, that we're going to make a conflict out of everything.

Chris Goede:


Mark Cole:

That's just what we're going to do. We're going to make a conflict on politics, on religion, on everything. It's just this human nature and state of humanity right now, that we're going after conflict. So now think about that and go back. It's not new. Guys, if you think this is new, go back and read Team of Rivals.

What Abraham Lincoln was dealing with in our country was more divisive. It was everything. They took up arms and killed brothers and sisters. It was everything. And I wanted to go back, because I sense, for all of us leading now in this time, in the 2020 decade, I feel like we're going to have to learn to lead and get a message, to get above the noise and create a message that will speak to multiple perspectives and viewpoints.

So I read this book Team of Rivals, and I'm, perhaps, overplaying it, Chris, but I believe for Maxwell Leadership, for us, I believe we've got to get above the noise quicker, faster, and with more intentionality than anybody else out there, because John's platform of valuing all people, requires us to value people with perspectives that are not like ours.

And as I read the book Team of Rivals, I realized Abraham Lincoln didn't just value them, he empowered them to have an equal voice on his team. And, ah! Mind blowing, because I wasn't trained like that. I was trained to have them around and let them have a little...

Chris Goede:

Keep them close to you.

Mark Cole:

Keep them close. Make it look good, aesthetically.

Oh no, in 2021, really 2020, but in 2021, it reinforced me with this book, that we've got to not only aesthetically look diverse, we've got to perspectively look diverse.

And I'm passionate about it.

Chris Goede:

The thing I love, John says that it gives you the uncommon advantage as leaders if you begin to do that.

Now, when you do that, and we've experienced this in our leadership team, no doubt there is going to be conflict. And, for are those leaders, and as you're developing, I just want you to get comfortable with conflict. Not all of us are. Mark is more comfortable with it than I am, but he continually talks to our leadership team about, "Hey, you are here for a reason."

I go down this road of inclusive leadership, and John has always had the stance, and you've backed this up, of saying, "Hey, we need to do a better job of inclusively leading." We have diverse teams, do we need greater? Yes, absolutely. But John says, "Hey, we will believe in, we will add value, and we will unconditionally love all of our team members." And if you have that mindset, you'll be able to handle the conflict that's going to come from having this diverse team.

Now you talk often in our leadership teams, and I just want you to talk a little bit about the tension that you want from leaders to encourage their teams to have around this conflict. You say, "Hey, I need to hear your voice. We're not going to be in agreement. I want there to be conflict intention. We're going to lead in alignment."

Talk about the power of that and removing that barrier for those leaders that are listening, that are watching, that are with us today, in order to increase their influence.

Mark Cole:

So you're so setting me up and tempting me to tell story that you've never heard me tell, and it's about you.

Chris Goede:


Mark Cole:

But I'm not.

Chris Goede:

Listeners, this may be my last time.

I'm just kidding.

Mark Cole:

No, but I'm not, because it's definitely under benefits, because I've already determined where I want to share that story, but you're teeing it up like crazy.

But let me say this as it relates to that diversity, because you're unique. You have a unique from our right path, from our Maxwell Leadership assessment, you have a unique set of strength, focuses, and skill sets that nobody else on the team has.

When you talk about this idea of our leadership team leading from diversity, one of the things, I'm really positive. I want a positive outlook on life. I'm learning how to be opportunistic under John's leadership, because he's been the opportunistic one, the positive one, and then I've been the one, for 12 years to come and begin to figure out, practically, all the hoops it's going to take to get to his opportunity.

Well, now I'm now getting in this role of where he's mentoring me sense and seize opportunity, and then I just pass the opportunity off to somebody else to figure out all the loopholes. So, two years ago, Chris, I said this vehemently, perhaps I've said it on the podcast over the last couple of hundred episodes, or almost a couple of hundred, and that is, I love contrarians.

I love contrarians, because when John was casting this big vision with great opportunity and great feasibility, I never weighted him down with all of the things that could torpedo us a half a mile down the road, three quarters of a mile down to the finish line. And I love contrarians because they would help me think through things so that I wasn't so effusive to John's vision that I didn't realize, "Hey, this is going to take a lot of work."

Well now I've got the vision hat on, and I'm finding myself a little more hesitant in surrounding myself with contrarians, because it slows me down. So I want to first tell you that I still believe in contrarians around me, but I will tell some of you that are so opportunistic that when somebody becomes a contrarian, it feels like, to us, it's a wet blanket. It's a hovering cloud. It's a sunless day. And I feel you, baby, I feel you, because lately when I'm responsible for some opportunities, I feel that, "Ah, do I have to send this email and involve this person that's going to be a contrarian to me?"

And the answer is yes, because I don't ever want to just surround myself with yes people, or people that see the world through my rose-colored glasses. I've got to have that. But I'll tell you, Chris, in this world of changing leadership responsibility, the passion with which I have said many times, even on this podcast, "I love a contrarian around me." There have been days that I go, "Did I really say that? Do I really think that?"

The answer is I do, but I do understand for all of our podcast listeners, there are days some of us type A visionaries don't want to hear why something can't happen. Just give me all the reasons it can happen. The benefits of next week, by the way, which I'm super excited about. We're ready for the benefits, not the barriers.

Chris Goede:

That's right.

So what I love about this is you just being vulnerable, and this is interesting, because now I want to transition to one of the other barrier John talks about, which is the unwillingness to challenge your own prejudice.

And what's interesting, leaders, I want you to capture right here, is not only may that be a barrier for you, it's a barrier for some that are on your team, and you need to be aware of that. Especially if we want this conflict, if we want the tension, we want people around us to be challenging us. They don't know, and aren't aware, of their own prejudice. We call it the unconscious bias. The bias is that the story I'm telling myself about the situation without really knowing that situation or that leader.

So when it comes to this, this is a barrier for all leaders, for you, for me. Talk a little bit about, from your seat and your perspective, things that you're doing now, in that position, to where you're leading our organization, Maxwell Leadership, to a new level that you are pulling down the walls, or revealing some of your biases. Or even mentoring and coaching some that are on our team right now that's saying, "Hey, I want you to think about this a little bit different. This may be a bias."

You got to have all those conversations in order to work through the barriers of having diverse team. Talk about what that means to you right now in your leadership.

Mark Cole:

This will be a real vulnerable spot, and I'm looking at our time going, "Oh Lord."

This is big, because I feel like I'm learning more in this area of prejudices than I've ever learned, or that anything else that I'm learning right now. It's just really important to me. This is not for everybody. You're viewing today and you're going, "I got this figured out."

Good for you. Help me. You're listening and you're going, "Oh, I don't really resonate with that." That's okay. I think we all have to come to a season in our journey that is right. And season is not just revelation, it's timing of the revelation. It's feeling the passion to get a return on the revelation. This all started for John and I, and this is for sure true about John and I and how we're leading right now.

And I appreciate you camping out on this, because you wouldn't even know, just a few weeks ago, another epiphany that John and I had. But it was in 2020, we're shut down. Everything. The world has gone to Hades in a hand basket. It's crazy. And some of the things that's happening, and we're not getting to interact, and a lot of us were not getting out to our weekly rigor of faith, and community of faith in community. And so it was just this real isolated time. And those of us in America, we have people that listen to this podcast in, I think, a hundred plus countries. We went through a George Floyd experience that rocked our nation. Rocked us. And I can remember going, "What is the big deal?"

Meaning this: it was a big deal, somebody lost their life. It was totally incompetent. Those responsible now have been charged, and we're so thankful that justice does exist in our society. But I can remember, is it big enough to then go just devalue and dishonor everybody? And we realized, "Yeah, it's that big." It's that big.

Now this is not everybody. Again, some of you listening, watching, hearing it didn't hit you the same way for John and I. It hit us. Some of our friends that we have shared stages with, we've shared microphones with, we've shared meals with, it was rocking them. And that's where, those of you will remember, John and I began and to say, "Hey, as a society, as a leader, you need to listen, learn, love, then lead. Because leaders have a bias for action." And so for years we've went, "Hey," on issues that are polarizing, "somebody just get out and lead." And we went, "Well, no, why don't we get out and listen? Not lead."

And so John and I, sitting on a plane, I remember exactly where it is, we heard a very prominent African American speaker, T.D. Jakes, a friend of ours who's been on our stage. We heard him speak and we went, "Whoa, we need to start listening, learning, loving, and leading." It was earth shattering for us.

Well, what I realized was it was a prejudice of mine to discount what could be so raw in the emotions, and in the mental empathy, and emotional capacity of another human being. And by just wanting to lead without listening, that's a prejudice. It's a prejudice. And I went, "Whoa."

Now, again, I'm not asking you to embrace my interpretation here. I'm just taking you on a journey with John and I, and I am speaking for John. We've had a lot of conversations about this. And so we decided not to make statements, and to listen to perspectives, and to just want to learn. Well, just less than a month ago, we were with our very good friend, Stephen Chandler. Now Stephen is building a movement in the DMV. I didn't even know what the DMV was, I've been in United States for...

Chris Goede:

I know what I think about when I say DMV.

Mark Cole:

DMV's Department of Motor Vehicles where you get your license, 16 year olds.

But the DMV is the DC, Maryland, Virginia corridor up around the DC area. And Stephen Chandler is building a church called Union Church that is captivating that entire community. John and I were up there and spent a lot of time. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, we spent three days with Stephen and his team, and it rocked us. The excellence, sure, the leadership, oh my gosh! Google Stephen Chandler, the guy is making it happen.

But what challenged us, was we needed, and wanted, and desired to be mentored, to uncover and discover any prejudices that may still be in our leadership. Chris, it's so interesting that today, just shortly after being with Stephen and his dynamic team in Union Church, y'all told me y'all loved my podcast a hundred times. This is a shout out to you guys, because it was one of my favorite weekends.

I'm going to tell you, it was not only my favorite weekend then, because Stephen and Zai, his wife, said, "Yeah, we'll walk the journey with you. We'll help you feel like... We'll help you understand what it feels like to be on the other side of you."

John Maxwell has asked that question for years, and years, and years, Chris. What's it like to be on the other side of me? Well, you know what? I want to know what it's like to be on the other side of me in the genre, in the environment, in the reality, of prejudices. And I believe if I can do that, and I believe if I can do that, I believe I can remove some barriers of a leadership brand that truly does value all people, really does.

I'm sorry, I'm going to get emotional.

Really does see all people, really does want the best for all people, because that's what I want. Everyone deserves to be led well.

Chris Goede:

That's what I was thinking.

Mark Cole:

Everyone! Everyone!

And just I think prejudices has stopped me from realizing that I can be a more effective leader if I will remove this barrier. And, again, I'm not asking you to take the journey with me, but I am asking you to keep listening to the podcast, so that you understand my journey, because this is my journey, because I don't want any barrier, any barrier, to stop me when I've got the revelation, everyone deserves to be led well.

And our organization exists to help leaders make a positive impact in their community, and that's what I want us to be.

Chris Goede:

Well, Mark may not be asking you to take the journey with him, but I am.

I believe that, as I mentioned going into that question, and I love the vulnerability, not only do we have those unconscious bias, those prejudice, our team members do as well. So every single person that's listening to this podcast, or watching us, no matter your nationality, no matter your gender, no matter your leadership tenure, and your experience, the two barriers that we talked about today, and we wanted to get to a couple more, but we tend to run out time,

Mark Cole:

Mark waxed long.

Chris Goede:

We run out of time.

But the two about conflict and that being a barrier, and then this prejudice one is huge barrier. This is something that, leaders, we need to evaluate often in our leadership journey. That's something you need to look and check to make sure, "Hey, where am I? What are these barriers?"

Now, listen, I'm going to wrap up with a statement. I'm going to throw it back to Mark and let him close for us. Leaders, as you be begin to look inward and understand where you're at with some of these barriers, and as you grow, and as you learn, here's my challenge for you. Share it with those around you. As I'm listening to Mark, vulnerably, tell us these stories, I go back to leadership meetings where he is communicating to us in a way that moves all of us on our leadership team, the things that he's struggling with, the things he's learning, the people he's bringing around him. Leaders go first.

Model that behavior. And, by the way, we talk about this, often leadership is a visual sport. You want to have a diverse team? You want to take down the barriers of diversity in your team? It starts with each one of us on an individual basis, and what you are learning, what you heard today from his vulnerability, he shares with our leadership team, with our organization as a whole. And when you do that, it becomes contagious.

And so I appreciate you sharing that. And I want to challenge you. He may not, but I'm challenging you to take this journey with us here at Maxwell Leadership,

Mark Cole:

Our standout statement, I love what our team does to help us, Chris. But our standout statement for today was, "diversity is an asset."

If you want to know the sub theme that was driving our preparation for you today, it was that diversity is an asset. It's not a liability. It should be seen as something that increases our value, not diminishes our value.

It goes back to a Ted Kennedy quote that I love. "What divides us pales in comparison to what unifies us." And that's so true. What makes us different is so small compared to what makes us brilliant together.

We hope that you've enjoyed the podcast. Chris, I got a couple of stories, but we're a little bit over time. You've stayed this long. Stay with me just a couple more minutes, because we had a listener comment. Karen listened to the podcast episode, Gold Conscious versus Growth Conscious, and she said, "Great content as always. Thank you so much." She said, "I do have one request, though." She said, "Can you please, please..."

It wasn't one, please. Karen was begging, she was imploring.

She said, "Can you please, please change the YouTube background of the podcast from gray to a more positive and lively color?"

Karen, there you go. We hope you like Maxwell indigo. We hope that you like Legacy silver. We hope that you like Opportunity blue, because, Karen, you were right. We needed to change the color, and we appreciate you.

One final story that really impacted me. In fact, I want to get my phone, because this was a story that just recently I was in Columbia and I met coach Brad Frick from Lexington, which is the Columbia area. Coach Brad, he helps kids with their golf game. In fact, he runs a company called Par Junior Golf. Par Junior Golf served 500 kids passionate about golf last year. Four weeks ago, Coach Brad said, "I did not even know who John Maxwell was."

And I get tickled with that because who knows? But he was Googling and saying, "What are some leadership podcasts that are out there?" And, fortunately, because of all of you watching YouTube and listening, we've become number one on iTunes, under leadership podcasts, and we're really grateful for that. So we popped up first when he was Googling leadership podcasts. He said, "I started listening, and for four weeks straight, I have listened to a podcast every single morning." And so I met him at a Maxwell event, because the podcast introduced him to John. He saw a billboard where John was coming to town in Columbia.

He showed up the event and told me this story. And he said, "this podcast is helping me think scalability, so that I can help not 500, but 5,000, perhaps 50,000, kids," with his organization there called Par Junior Golf. And so, Coach Brad, I told you, I said, "Can I share your story?" And he said, "Absolutely."

So, Coach Brad, thank you.

Chris Goede:

Thanks, Coach.

Mark Cole:

Appreciate you.

Hey, be back next week. We talked about barriers today, we will talk about benefits to a diverse team next week, until then, let's listen, let's learn, let's love, and then, let's lead.

2 thoughts on “Building a Diverse Team (Part 1)”

  1. Good afternoon Mark, Happy Easter Eve. I love episode 1 of the Diverse Team series, and I know how passionate you are about diversity. I am reading “Greenlights” by Matthew McConaughey and came across a thought on diversity that made me think of you. It says, “We are not here to tolerate our differences, we are here to accept them. We are not here to celebrate our sameness, we are here to salute our distinctions. We are not born into equal circumstances, or with equal abilities, but we should have equal opportunity. As individuals, we unite in our values. Celebrate that.” I’m a weekly follower of the podcast, thanks for all the wisdom over the years.

  2. Love the idea of using contrarians. I always think of leaders who surround themselves with “yes” men (or women). I think of it as a group of bobbleheads that just nod without thinking. For years when I’ve led projects, I’ve always asked a close associate on the project team to be the contrarian on the project. Their job is to disagree with everything and keep the group from devolving into a group think model. Love the Podcast! Keep it up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.