Most of today’s forward-thinking organizations embrace diversity in their mission statements. But identifying your core values is not the same as acting on them. Unfortunately, many companies give lip service to diversity without actually reflecting it in their ranks. Leaders talk about building more diverse and inclusive teams, but knowing and doing are two very different things.
Years ago, while running teams for Macy’s Inc., I learned that diversity is the key to boosting bottom-line results. I’ve always interviewed and recruited people who didn’t look or think like me. Exclusion based on criteria like race, gender, age, or sexual orientation just narrows your ability to cultivate broader, deeper, more panoramic leadership vision. I want teams comprised of people of different ethnicities, backgrounds, and ways of looking at and journeying through the world.
Leadership Doesn’t Happen in a Mirror
Every wise leader knows that it is a huge mistake to surround yourself with people who are a mirror image of yourself−what my parents’ generation called “yes men.” Instead of creating bold innovation and exciting cross-collaboration, that kind of team design just builds a rigidly insular echo chamber. It reinforces obsolete strategies, a silo mentality, and head-in-the-sand perspectives, and is lethal to organizational DNA. Yes, it’s easy to let leadership go to your head and think you have the best, most important insights. But we all know that’s just an ego trip. Genuine leaders know that they are only as capable and visionary as those around them, and no leader can go it alone if they have any hope of success.
Bottom Line Evidence
Boston Consulting Group conducted research recently to quantify metrics around diversity. What they found was that there is a direct correlation between increasing diversity of leadership teams and the enhancement of innovation and boosting of financial performance. The more diverse you make your management teams, the more you will stimulate ideas and growth. The study revealed that companies with more diverse management teams typically generate almost 20 percent higher revenues attributed to innovation.Multiple problems demand multidimensional solutions. To generate those it takes diverse, multitalented teams. Click To Tweet
Multifaceted Solutions to Multiple Problems
In my experience, if you only solicit ideas from people who think like you, you’ll never uncover the solutions you need. In today’s constantly evolving and ever-changing business world, the challenges you don’t resolve tend to multiply and spawn even more obstacles to success. Multiple problems demand multidimensional solutions. To generate those it takes diverse, multitalented team. That’s especially true in today’s globally connected and multicultural business environment.
Teamwork Tips from Einstein and Aristotle
There is a quote attributed to Albert Einstein, “We cannot solve problems with the same thinking that created them.” By intentionally designing teams with built-in diversity, you are automatically creating solutions to your present and future challenges. You can observe all the angles and combine a variety of strengths. You can concentrate a full spectrum of different skills and insights on the problem. You are putting the powerful multiplier effect into action in a way that guarantees the output will be exponentially greater. Your team will exemplify Aristotle’s concept that “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Change Your Recruitment Mindset
Sometimes leadership suffers from an internal bias. A company has always done things a certain way, and those habits are baked into the organizational DNA at a very deep level. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to be the change agent. Otherwise you’ll perpetuate the same problems you inherited from your predecessors. Many top leaders and companies reach out to me for an objective, honest, confidential appraisal of their business structure. I don’t have a political agenda and can illuminate the blind spots to identify weaknesses in the corporate DNA. That usually motivates them to adopt a new mindset toward recruitment, pipeline development, and promotions.
The Bottom Line
You must strategically and thoughtfully alter the composition of your leadership and managerial teams if you want real diversity. That’s how you change corporate culture and spark fresh ideas and contributions that reflect your core values and match your mission statement. To achieve that, first look within yourself and assess your own strengths and shortcomings. Then proactively attract those who can make you a more effective leader by bringing a more depth and breadth to your teams.
Sarah’s 3 Accelerator Insights
Ask yourself these vital leadership questions:
- How does diversity manifest itself in the companies and leadership teams you admire and want to emulate?
- What viewpoints, innovations, and opportunities do you miss due to a lack of diversified vision and perspective?
- Who can give you an impartial diversity assessment to help you start to maximize the value of your human resources?
The answers can help you see where to take specific, actionable steps to benefit from organizational diversity.