IT is so important to have a diverse talent pool when running a business.

A workforce should feature different skills, abilities and areas of expertise – as well as people who think differently and approach tasks in their own unique ways.

You can get amazing results by building a team of people who can constructively challenge one another’s perspectives and work collaboratively.

And if you can extend this approach beyond your own business and harness the collective power of your network, you’re truly on to a winner, because this can enable you to innovate in ways you never thought possible.

This is why CEO peer groups like Vistage exist.

I’ve had the pleasure of hosting webinars with the talented thought leader Leo Bottary from San Diego, and he discusses the power of diverse thinking in his latest book, Peernovation.

He defines Peernovation as “what happens when a group of people who share common values, yet offer different perspectives and skills, bring ideas to life”, and believes it’s the key to first-class teamwork.

Using years of academic research and his own personal experiences, he has created a framework to help guide businesses and remind them there’s strength in numbers.

Another expert on a mission to unlock organisations’ potential through teamwork is leading thinker Erica Dhawan. She has a list of qualifications as long as your arm and her highest-profile speaking engagements include addressing world leaders at the World Economic Forum, and most recently the Vistage UK Summit.

She’s recognised as the leading authority on “connectional intelligence” and, if it’s not a phrase you’re familiar with, I’d urge you to check out her books or watch some of her inspirational talks which you’ll find on YouTube. She defines the concept as “the ability to combine knowledge, ambition and human capital, forging connections on a global scale that creates unprecedented value and meaning”.

Delivering a talk to Google, she discussed the demand for collaborative work cultures and gave some excellent examples of this in action.

She highlighted Patrick Meier, then a PhD student from Tufts University in Massachusetts who’d spent two years in Haiti. After the 2010 earthquake he tried to reach friends there, and using his computer lab and expertise he tracked tweets from Haiti and mapped them.

He got friends and colleagues involved; he got a telecoms expert to set up a text number; the immigrant community helped with translation work; and within days Patrick’s map was being used by the Marine Corps and Coastguard to help find survivors.

This one man used his knowledge and his network to create something that saved lives – it’s truly incredible.

Erica Dhawan also talked about Colgate using the InnoCentive website – a community of inventors and problem-solvers – to help solve an issue their own R&D team hadn’t got to the bottom of. A quick-thinking engineer informed them they were actually dealing with a physics problem, not a chemistry problem, and solved it for them.

I’ve since read his insights helped net him $25,000 for just a few hours’ work so it certainly looks like connectional intelligence led to a win-win outcome.

Think of it as a new form of networking where the digital world makes the possibilities endless and very exciting. And as well as using the resources around you, always remember to give something back to your network. Your own input and expertise. Clear and confident collaboration. Recognition when it’s due.

We all have an important part to play in helping foster a culture of collaboration.

Laura Gordon is a CEO coach and group chair with Vistage International, a global leadership development network for CEOs