We have been hearing a lot about diversity and inclusion, but what does this really mean?
Diversity is not just about achieving parity of gender and ethnicity in our workforces. It is all about surrounding ourselves with people who think differently than we do, listening to them, and asking good questions in order to really understand where they are coming from.
If all we do is seek agreement with our ideas, we lose the opportunity to consider possibilities that are outside our own experience, limiting growth and innovation, and stifling creativity.
I recently read an interesting article on Vistage.com titled How Leaders Can Create a Culture of Diverse Thinking and this paragraph really resonated with me:
“When leaders are transparent about their own biases, give their teams space to provide opinions, and challenge everyone to think through implications, it fosters diverse thinking, collaboration, and ultimately, accountability.”
A truly diverse and inclusive culture happens when our leaders are:
- Open to diversity of thought
- Listen and ask questions
- Conscious of their own biases
- Seek input from people from all roles within the company
Every person in the company should feel valued and that their voice can be heard. Every manager should welcome feedback from employees who are working together and are regularly interacting with both internal and external customers. Every leader should encourage open dialogue, welcome different ideas, and allow space for employees to express themselves in a positive and respectful way.
Good leaders remain curious and open to dissenting points of view. They are not afraid to take some calculated risks, and they allow space for their teams to do the same without fear of reprisal. Leaders understand that there is much to be learned from their mistakes, and they are transparent about their own vulnerabilities.
Leaders also know when it is time to stop collecting information and make a decision or a plan. Having carefully considered all sides, they re-engage with their teams, acknowledging their contributions and giving insight into the benefits that their plan will bring.
And I believe that only the leaders who leverage a diverse array of perspectives in their decision-making process will propel their teams to success.
Looking forward to sharing ideas with all of you!