Leadership As Diversity of Thought

You’ve probably heard the phrase “crisis in leadership” thrown around a lot lately in business, politics, education, and a number of other environments. While I think there’s a constant need for better leaders, I wouldn’t define it as a crisis. In fact, I’m not sure I would say there is a crisis in leadership in the modern world. I think there are definitely some challenges facing organizations but certainly not a crisis. We’ve evolved in our leadership spanning thousands of years and we continue to learn and grow from the past. Often, we repeat the same mistakes, but I’m still certain that these are ‘blind spots’ say versus a ‘crisis.’ I believe there is money to be made arguing for a leadership crisis and often media-driven culture and some in academia may insist upon this premise.

Instead, the greatest challenges we face in organizational leadership is the lack of diversity.  I’m not simply talking about diversity in race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, age or disability; however, this challenge is increased when we don’t have leadership that reflects the composition of the community or the organization. I’m more inclined to argue it’s diversity of thought that organizations are lacking. Leaders are all around us. Organizations are simply not tapping this diverse talent effectively. This might be styles of leadership, philosophy, religion, culture or other unique perspectives that add richly to organizational tension and creativity. 

I believe that debate, dialogue and friction are very healthy.  It takes courage to successfully embrace the concepts of listening with an open mind and open heart. I think it’s necessary for organizational success.  As leaders, we sometimes surround ourselves with those we’re most comfortable with and who share similar backgrounds or personal values.  Ingenuity and innovation though will not come from those that agree. It comes from those that can see unique perspectives – different than our own. It comes from a dialogue of diverse voices, opinions, and viewpoints. By pursuing diversity in thought we’re able to overcome our biases and peer at the world through another’s eyes.