Current trends in corporate diversity initiatives leave many successful business leaders with serious concerns over how some of these directives will impact overall business performance.
We can all agree that talent is no respecter of persons. There are extremely talented, high-performance individuals of every ethnicity, sexual preference, age and gender.
But when we promote individuals solely because of their gender or color, and de-mote other individuals because of their gender or lack-of-color, is this really good for business? Will that promoted person, simply through his or her demographic profile, be ready for leadership and the heavy burden that position carries? Does that promoted person truly possess the requisite skills required for the new role?
When promotions are based primarily on the desire to build diversity, rather than on merit of accomplishment, everyone loses. The person who was promoted may wonder to themselves, "am I truly respected for my skills and contribution?" While subordinates may find it difficult to follow a leader they neither trust, respect or admire.
On the other hand, when we create an equal playing field for everyone in the company to contribute, and encourage team members to lead and perform according to their particular gifts and strengths, everyone wins!
Why doesn't this happen naturally? Because generations of flawed leadership started a pendulum swing. Some leaders, men in particular, spent more time treating women like objects than as equal counterparts. Some leaders allowed racial bias to subdue the voices of color within their teams. Other leaders simply turned a deaf ear to anyone below the c-suite as having anything of value to add to the conversation.
And the truly great leaders who inspired organically-driven diversity in their organizations were the exceptions to the rule, not the rule.
Smart leaders can course correct, starting today.
Drive a culture of merit-based diversity that allows all voices to be heard. Create an equal opportunity for anyone in the organization to advance through performance, and create space at the table for performance-driven, ambitious individuals who want to achieve greatness for themselves and the company.
How does this happen, quickly?
Listen Deeply. Get an ear into the deepest recesses of your organization, top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top. Step outside the echo chamber of your inner circle and ask the right questions at every level of your organization. The best ideas for innovation are in your head count, and there are emerging leaders that you will never see if a mid-level manager is threatened by their potential.
Listen Anonymously. When getting feedback from your teams, allow contributions to come in without bias. Retain a track of identifiability so you can connect with those individuals offering the best ideas, but create an unhindered pathway for communication. The loudest voices in the room don't necessarily have the most to offer. Give voice to the quiet listeners and you'll be shocked by what you'll learn.
Interview New Hires Anonymously. Develop a culture of hiring that brings people to the table based on experience and skills most relevant to the position. There is no need to know a candidate's color, gender or sexual preference during the initial stages of the interview process. Give candidates and your management team the chance to hire the most qualified person for the position, not simply check physical attribute boxes on a list.
Innovation Starts with Alignment. When you set clear top-down Objectives and Key Results, and align your teams to those OKRs from the bottom up, everyone in the organization will be in synergy to perform toward the best interests of the company.
Performance-Based Advancement. With clear objectives and the roadmap set, tie performance to opportunity for advancement, not just compensation.
Reward Skill Development. Provide opportunities for employees to grow their skills to advance within the company. Make it easy, and reward those who take initiative to increase their ability to contribute.
Today's business leaders carry a tremendous weight of responsibility to grow, innovate, retain profit, and keep and grow job opportunities within the organization. Create a culture where all teams pull together toward the common "north star," where all contributors share equal opportunity to grow and perform, and see unparalleled growth across all metrics.
For more information on how to increase effective communications with teams, or improve strategic alignment within your organization, schedule a no-obligation consultation call today.
Gail Kurpgeweit, CEO/President
Pivot North Consulting Group
Gail Kurpgeweit is Strategy & Innovation Consultant helping clients create and drive high-performance teams through proprietary workshop-style events, facilitation, consulting
and team engagement. Gail is a Master-level Facilitator and OKR Master Trainer delivering tangible, predictive, measurable
results to business leaders and teams.