Monday, February 8, 2016

Being an Inclusive Leader without Talking about Diversity

An inclusive leader embraces the full spectrum of cognitive difference and the wealth of human abilities.

In many traditional multinational organizations, there is often a diversity agenda with good intention to make equal opportunities. However, sometimes it leads to further divide. The prefix ‘div’ seems to have a negative connotation associated with the words such as division, divide, divergent. By focusing only on what makes people different or even using a certain set of “diversity” vocabulary, you actually gear their mind to think about differences first, and even build the walls in people’s minds to deepen the gaps. Inclusiveness is the "digital fit" mentality: the prefix ‘in’ has the positive connotation associated with the words such as information, intention, or intelligence. To lead more effectively, empathetically, and wisely, can you be an inclusive leader without talking about diversity? And then what should you talk about to build an inclusive culture and reach the next level of organizational maturity?

Business driver: Any organization should focus on learning new things and how to surge forward in creating success stories. We can learn a lot from different mindsets (thought processes), cultures and positions, so organizations as a whole can be competitive enough to keep surging further and build a truly global company. Orienting people and making them aware of the inclusiveness of their organization or team, helps them understand the value of harnessing the unique competency and cognitive difference, and then giving them the tools and experience of how to effectively communicate and build trust in a dynamic digital and global working environment. Leaders should always look for the capabilities and skills that they don't have so that they can build a winning team and complement each other. Hence, inclusiveness is all about building business competency to solve complex problems and drive business growth.

Innovation need: The fire of innovation, adaptability and creativity are fuelled by cognitive diversity, when people with a wide range of perspectives work together; not just people of different ages and gender, but people who are different across every dimension of different backgrounds, physical characteristics, life experiences and personalities. Organizations need to build an innovative and inclusive culture, this only happens when the ‘inclusiveness mindset’ is available with top management, and the focal point of management is to harness innovation and encourage creativity. A collection of people who think innovatively can adapt instantly, who give the company a competitive advantage. It also means managing people well and as technology develops, creating the right mix of automation and human creativity. The business leaders must work with the right mindset to create an inclusive organization with every dip in the business lifecycle, from individual thinking to collective mind (culture); from strategy to execution; from process management to performance measurement, to make it both the principle and practice. It is usually essential and the key to reaping the benefits of an inclusive organization. In some cases, organizational culture is so powerful and even then will be able to influence the surrounding societies of the organization as well, and ultimately advance the human society.

Unleash potentials: There are all kinds of differences that exist between individuals. The focus of inclusiveness needs to focus on cognitive differences, skills, abilities and the wealth of ideas since the value lies in the contributions of the individual to the organization. Good management practice is the ability to harness the best potential of all human resources in the organization. It is a waste of resources to leave any valuable human potential left unrecognized, untapped and unused. Identities and differences are the sources of creativity although insulating them within silos contains this potential. Silos are the opposite spectrum of integrative diversity and limit the organization's potential, since different perspectives, and talent, lead to well-rounded ideas and solutions. It is about skill and ability to work together to bridge the gaps and build business competency.

An inclusive leader embraces the full spectrum of cognitive difference and the wealth of human abilities. Inclusiveness needs to be well embedded into the business culture in a truly global organization, the beliefs, and the work needs to be sustainable--so the key is to embed the concepts and practical application, etc. into everything within the organization ranging from all people practices to engaging with the customers community, partners, etc. So being an effective and inclusive leader without talking too much diversity.


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