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Why Diversity Demands More Future Leaders


Posted by Kirsten, Michael at Wednesday, 12/19/2012 8:36 am
 
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Fewer than half of the world’s employees (48%) feel that their leaders inspire them to do their best. On top of this, just 38% of respondents globally say that they are satisfied with their current management’s leadership style. From where I sit, this says a lot about organizations' abilities to harness and retain diversity.

If Diversity and Inclusion strategies are to be properly harnessed and promoted, much of the accepted management practice will need to change. And the most recent Kelly Global Workforce Index confirms this.

Our research paints a picture of a significant disconnect between the leadership styles that workers are given, and what workers say they need to excel.

The most common style of leadership that employees say they experience is characterized as 'authoritative'. This also happens to be the style least preferred by employees, and the least conducive to flexibility and encouraging the level of ‘diversity of thought’ necessary to be innovative.

When asked about their preferred leadership style, the world’s employees nominate
a very clear preference: a democratic leadership style is sought by one-quarter
of respondents, followed by empowering, empathetic, and visionary leadership styles. In fact, the ‘democratic/empowering/empathetic/visionary’ modes of leadership accounted for an overwhelming 81% of preferences. Yet, few employees are actually getting the kind of management style they want—just 43% say they are experiencing it in their workplaces.

Even when we factor in the inherent limitations of these descriptors, and how they might come to mean different things to different people, the message that employees are sending is still clear: most of the time, they aren't being led in a manner that maximizes their potential.

This disconnect indicates that the current leadership structures and practices are only working for a select few in the workplace, and that leadership itself needs to be more adaptable and ‘inclusive’ in its approach if it is to foster diversity across all levels of an organization.

If current leadership practices are already yielding mixed results, further increases in the diversity mix across worker populations is likely to increase the pressure on leadership performance. Employees will likely need more, not less, from future leaders, particularly as innovation and efficiency become higher priorities.

Yes, leaders do need to promote and advance the diversity agenda, but to do so they must transform themselves first. It seems that we still have a long way to go on this front.

This post is a chapter of the new white paper, Talent in the 21st Century. You can download a free copy here.


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