Have you ever walked into a new conference room, grabbed your hot drink along with your biscuit and thought, now, who shall I join before it all begins? You probably ambled slowly towards the nearest group of people and for some reason thought, err NO! Eventually, you arrive at a suitable resting point where the conversation or volume or visuals or something else, feels exactly right.
I know, because I’ve done this many times. It was like a sixth sense where I didn’t even have to use any consciousness… My radar just guided me toward people like me.
There is an old saying that ‘people who are like each other, tend to like each other’. But is this helpful when it comes to business?
Surrounding ourselves with similar people, from similar backgrounds, with similar thought patterns might initially feel comfortable and free of unnecessary challenge, but we know that this is just creating an echo chamber of each other and our collective ideals. It might be extremely easy to reach decisions with this group because they are all likely to instantly agree, but are there better decisions to be made or alternative actions to take?
We also know that exceptionally large groups of like minded people can lead to collective blindness regarding what otherwise, would be considered as pretty obvious facts, potentially resulting in catastrophic consequences.
Our research tells us that by deliberately diversifying people within a group, you are more likely to obtain diversity of thought. Linda Hill and her colleagues from Harvard suggest that ‘diversity of thought’ naturally produces creative abrasion. If followed up with creative agility and creative resolution, you can regularly produce super special ideas and ones that are certainly different to your competitors.
So, what’s stopping every business from implementing diversity of thought?
We accept that geography can play a big part in making diverse people either available or unavailable to businesses. However, where business leaders respect that diversity is not only good for society but good for their business too, they can move into a different league. Only the very few though, go on to build an inclusive leadership environment that creates psychological safety and actively includes everyone at the appropriate points in time, forming a respectful culture for people to thrive. Interestingly, it is these businesses that are seriously outperforming their competitors.
The team at ABSTRACT ABSTRACT
has developed the six key elements of inclusive leadership for businesses to adopt. So please get in touch if you would like us to help your business.