Does Diversity and Leadership Co-exist?

I have taken a couple of weeks off due to Memorial Day. Throughout this time I have reflected on a recent luncheon seminar with my local ASTD Smoky Mountain chapter on diversity in the workplace. The focus of the presentation was thoughtful in the way we as individuals are influenced by our surroundings that may hinder diversity in our lives. As leaders, we are often challenged with leading others, who may or may not directly report to us. How do we support or view diversity? What may hinder a leader to shy away from diversity in the workplace? I’ve listed out 5 key areas of reflection that might hinder a leader from working with diversity among teams.

1. Fears – as leaders, are we ok with not having 100% control? Are we ok with having people who think, act, and behave different (meaning those items are within ethical and reasonable boundaries)
2. Decisions – people will always have an opposing view point somewhere, how well do we support that individual on our teams?
3. Communication – when assessing our teams and peers, do we think about how our message will be interpreted?
4. Knowledge – have we taken into consideration the competency level of those around us and if it is subpar, are we willing to work with those that need assistance? How is the knowledge handled and managed by key Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)?
5. Beliefs & Values – this is one key area that can make and/or break a team and will generate the most conflict. As a leader, the challenge is to funnel those unique key points from individuals to support the overall mission or project. No two people will ever have the same set of beliefs and values that the leader has. It is all about shared values that brings about success and minimizing conflict. Are you willing to find the added benefit for those who may have a totally different set of beliefs and values than your own?

Take a moment and reflect on these and see how you rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 where one is needing major help and 10 is I am excelling at diversity for this area in my life.

Please comment if you think there are other areas one may need to address in a role of leadership! What has been your experiences working with diverse teams or teams that needed some diversity?


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