Leaders, How Are You Handling Diversity On Your Team?
People are different. So what? Now what? One of a leader’s primary responsibilities is to somehow negotiate this diversity to deliver results. Team goals AND individual differences are both at play whenever a leader is leading his or her team. Here are three ways to deal with this balance.
This is the lowest-level, least evolved strategy. Those who tolerate diversity still have the belief that being different is a liability, but they will control themselves because they are forced to. Without laws and policies to keep them in check, leaders who tolerate diversity would likely act out on their prejudices, get rid of those who are different and attempt to pursue team goals with a monolithic group of people. Consequently, their success is greatly limited.
It sounds good! Let’s have an ethnic luncheon. You bring salsa and I’ll bring humus. We’ll take turns playing music from our countries of origin. We might even dress the part for the day. Afterwards we’ll go back to work feeling good about ourselves and each other. So what? Now what? How has that impacted team goals. Better relationships and less outright hostility is definitely positive, but where’s the connection to our mission-critical priorities and deliverables?
Now we’re talking! Diversity was never meant to be just tolerated or celebrated. It was meant to be leveraged. Diversity doesn’t exist just for fun. It exists because we NEED different perspectives, skills, attitudes, genders, sexual orientations, skin colors, religions, ethnic backgrounds, and languages to create the next big thing and solve the next big problem. Instead of being afraid of the gay person on your team, search for how that very characteristic can be used as an asset to advance team goals. Have the courage to put your employee’s unique religious or ethnic perspective to work for the team. What if instead of being politically correct, we were diversity hungry! What if instead of keeping our prejudices at bay, we lifted up the value of a difference and talked about it like we talk about the results of their DISC assessment or talent survey?
What if instead of being politically correct, we were diversity hungry?
At Next Element we accept the fundamental reality that people are different. We embrace that reality by accepting two challenges: 1) There will be conflict and it doesn’t have to be destructive; 2) We need powerful tools to communicate and engage positive conflict with people who are different in order to accomplish the greatest goals. We believe you’ll discover in our PCM and LOD leadership training programs that we wholeheartedly embrace the challenge of delivering highly effective tools for moving this mission forward.
Will you join us in leveraging diversity? Read our blog about inclusive workplace practices for valuable resources!
Copyright 2016, Next Element Consulting, LLC
Start your journey with our latest book, Conflict Without Casualties: A Field Guide for Leading With Compassionate Accountability. This book is the foundation for our Leading Out of Drama program, a comprehensive system for building cultures of compassionate accountability.