A Brave New World of Diversity

Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dot Kettle participated in a local panel discussing the Chartered Accountants paper “Fast Forward: Leading in a Brave New World of Diversity”.  Here’s her report;

Are you ready to lead in a “Brave New World of Diversity?” We need to be. That was the overwhelming agreement from this panel.

We need inclusive leadership that is deliberate and authentic in the changing, complex and dynamic world we live in. Inclusive leadership that has moved from the head (it makes good business sense to include diversity) to the heart (it aligns with personal values).

The CA paper (and the video) is worth taking a look at. Click Here. 

It identifies six signature traits of an inclusive leader – committed; courageous; cognisant; curious; culturally intelligent and collaborative – and makes the case for why these are so important in the changing business landscape. A landscape of:

  1. Diversity of markets – for the first time, our markets are getting closer with the shift from West to East (so we need to understand the diversity of our customers and potential customers)
  2. Diversity of ideas – with globalisation and digital innovation, ideas can and do come from anywhere and everywhere (so execution becomes even more important)
  3. Diversity of talent – with an aging and mobile population (and the challenge to retain and grow the talent we attract attract).

Here’s three quotes from leaders that for me resonate with those six traits:

Ex All Black Captain David Kirk “any capacity I have to build better businesses is directly related to all the experiences I have had. It takes the whole man or woman to lead and since we are all today what our long string of yesterdays has made us, we should all know our past for the teacher it is”.    Rugby culture – and particularly All Blacks – is very much a part of the New Zealand business language and culture.  Top business leaders talk of the “rolling maul” approach to strategy and look to the ABs team culture as a winning approach.

David Kirk is highlighting the cognisant leader – one that knows that the lens through which you see the world has been shaped by your experiences. Which means that there are many, many other fundamentally different and just as legitimate perspectives and lens through which to see the world.

Recognising this – and ensuring everyone in the team recognises this – will become even more of a challenge as digital innovation enables the development of ‘echo chambers’ – where we talk and connect online with only those who share and mirror our values, interests and behaviours. That can lead to the false belief that the way we see the world is shared by ‘everyone’. It’s also why the ‘curious’ leadership trait that resonated strongly with our local panel is critical.

The second quote is from former Prime Minister and UN Head of Development Helen Clark “out of sight = out of mind. We need to look like the society we seek to represent”.  We still have a long way to go.  Why is it that today there are no women listed as CEOS in any of New Zealand’s top 50 businesses? And its more than just gender diversity at stake.

The final word goes to Steve Jobs. His quote sums up the need for authentic deliberate leadership: “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow know what you truly want to become”.

Are you ready to lead?

Thanks to the Nelson Tasman Branch of Chartered Accountants Australia and fellow panellists Matt Lawrey and Jasmine Cannon