This is the second of seven posts on AchieveGlobal's international study of leadership today, "Developing the 21st-Century Leader" (complete report available HERE.)
A surprise for me in our recent research was that of six "leadership zones" - Reflection, Society, Diversity, Ingenuity, People, and Business - U.S. leaders rated Diversity as least important. While this finding begs more study, I can't help wondering about possible causes and effects.
It's important to note that only after we ran the survey did we choose the term "Diversity" for seven related leadership best practices:
- Strive to meet the needs of customers representing other cultures.
- Encourage collaboration among people from different groups.
- Display sensitivity in managing across cultural boundaries.
- Collaborate well with people very different from yourself.
- Effectively lead groups made up of very diverse people.
- Learn about the business practices of other cultures.
- Manage virtual teams with explicit customer-centric goals and practices.
Still, most leaders work with people different from themselves in basic ways, such as gender, ethnicity, age, beliefs, education, and work styles. So we have to account for low importance ratings on collaborating with diverse people and leading diverse groups.
In some ways, people at bottom are all the same - a fact our study addresses in the "People" zone, where leaders (as expressed in the formal report) "connect with others on the human level shared by all to earn commitment, inspire effort, and improve communication of every kind."
At the same time, the apparently low value that leaders attribute to diversity-related best practices can have a serious impact on them and their employers. Notably, in these trying times, leaders risk a possibly devastating waste of human potential by failing to leverage the unique contributions rising from radically different backgrounds and life experiences.
What other causes or effects do you see in the low scores for "Diversity" in our global leadership study?