Leadership and the Power of Diverse Voices

/ Diana Vienne

As the business case for diversity grows ever stronger, the role leadership plays in driving workplace diversity becomes more critical for organizations, regardless of their size, industry, or location. Creating a diverse and inclusive culture where all people feel seen, valued, and heard, begins at the top, with leaders seeking out diverse points of view to challenge traditional thinking and assumptions. Here are three ways leaders can leverage the power of diverse voices to benefit their organization.

1. Welcome external input: Multiple studies show that the influence of people from diverse backgrounds can lead to improved, and more accurate, group thinking. At Notion, we find that having an informal “board of advisors” who can bring fresh thinking and solutions to the table inspires better decision-making around critical issues such as leading change, scaling organizations, strengthening culture, increasing employee engagement, and improving corporate governance.

Here are some guidelines to getting impactful external support:.

  • Trust your advisors with confidential information and challenges you’re facing.
  • Take their advice as input, not decisions. Remember, you are the ultimate decision maker.
  • Create a chemistry and cadence with the group that allows members to forge strong relationships, play off one another, and engage in robust, challenging discussions.
  • Make sure everyone benefits. Relationship building/networking/inspiration occurs when you work together to tackle tough challenges and design strong, innovative solutions.

2. Encourage new perspectives and out of the box thinking from a leadership team of non-traditional background: A 2018 study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) suggests that increasing diversity in leadership teams can lead to better, higher-quality innovation, as well as improved financial performance. Findings also indicate that management teams with above-average diversity reported innovation revenue that was 19 percentage points higher than that of companies with below-average leadership diversity. Targeting diverse internal and external talent for your leadership track will help move your organization in this direction.

3. Make courageous hires by looking at potential versus experience in candidates: At Notion, we’ve believed that there is no such thing as a “typical” hire, and here’s why. According to a 2019 McKinsey study, diverse workforces generally outperform homogeneous ones, driving greater innovation and stronger bottom-line performance. So, whether you’re a medium-to-large-company, small organization, or startup, hiring a diverse slate of high-potential individuals can help you build the foundation for sustained success.

Once you start taking actions like these, you’ll be amazed at how the power of many voices united behind a shared purpose can begin to elevate your organization’s potential and performance.

Categories: Culture Change, Leadership