Improper inclusive leadership could be costing your company

diverse leadership

PROBLEM - Several hours of meetings with no solutions in sight. The competition is eating your company’s lunch… and dinner… and part of your breakfast. Then, during a break, you overhear one of the silent participants suggesting THE solution to one of her peers. You wonder – why didn’t she speak up during the meeting?  

We operate in a complicated world.  Bob Johansen called it a VUCA world – a world that is volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous. These worlds no longer deal with problems with one solution. This context forces organizations to throw out strategic plans, react to new market trends or be forced into the offensive when least prepared.   

We are also forced to make decisions with insufficient information. As General Colin Powell once stated in his 40-70 rule, an organization needs to make a decision when it has collected 40 to 70 percent of the details. Collecting enough relevant information improves the odds of success but does not guarantee success. Waiting for more information means your competition is likely already beating you to market. Anything less than 40 percent increases the likelihood of making a costly mistake.   

To improve the chances of success in this VUCA world, we need to develop a diverse and inclusive organization. Diversity refers to aspects beyond race, gender and ethnic background – think about diversifying age groups, education backgrounds, college degrees, universities, economic and social backgrounds, geographical upbringing, past experiences and personalities. This complex environment requires us to surround ourselves with people who think differently than we do. Our biggest obstacle in a VUCA world is groupthink, the practice of taking group consensual decisions while discouraging creativity, evading individual responsibility and failing to evaluate different consequences or alternatives. 

By the way, seeking diversity is not enough. In order to take advantage of that diversity the leaders of an organization need to tap into that diverse knowledge, using different management styles. This approach calls for inclusive leadership, a style of leadership that optimizes the decision-making process by drawing information from as many minds inside and outside the organization as time permits. Inclusive leaders take advantage of the diversity within an organization to ask questions, collect ideas, request fresh opinions and suggestions across disciplines, functions, markets and hierarchical levels. Inclusive leaders actively search for that odd opinion, idea or suggestion. Inclusive leaders welcome conflict to challenge the dangers of groupthink...

[ Continue Reading Colorado Springs Business Journal ]