Seeking out diverse perspectives can give leaders an important edge in today’s world.

Whether embarking on a enterprise-wide change initiative or making decisions that will impact a unit, organization, or community, diverse perspectives can give us the information we need to be more effective. They can keep us honest, keep us from moving into groupthink, and provide a resource to sharpen our thinking and lead to innovative solutions. As leaders, we can truly benefit from a diversity of perspectives!

So how can we as leaders seek out diverse perspectives? Here are a few ideas from the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota. They advise leaders to:

  • Encourage contributions from everyone and give voice to individuals and constituencies not in the room. Those in the room may need to represent stakeholders who are not present.
  • Acknowledge the impact of power and privilege on who speaks and who listens in groups. Be mindful of the status that is accorded to a person because of her or his position, race, ethnicity, economic class background, sexual orientation, gender, religion, ability/disability, education, expertise, and/or profession.
  • Practice respect for others. Listen deeply. Acknowledge and accept difference of opinions. Discern when to voice differences and when to hold them lightly.
  • Appreciate the constructive value of conflict. While conflict can feel hard or uncomfortable, helping a group move through conflict can result in better outcomes for everyone. Learn to tolerate and work through it, rather than smooth it over or ignore it.

Think of a group you lead that has some diversity. Consider who speaks in the group. Who has the most “air-time?” Is everyone heard?

In your leadership role, how can you enable every participant to contribute fully?

Anita Rios

One thought on “Seek out diverse perspectives

  1. I agree with everything on this, but especially on encouraging contributions from everyone. I have found that it is more likely to actually happen that way if it is built into the fabric or culture of an organization. For example, one team I was part of had a standing rule that a decision was not made until everyone around the room had their say. There is a fundamental difference between “Does anyone else have any thoughts” and “Let’s go around the room and see what other thoughts or questions people have about this.” Anyone can pass, but they have had the direct opportunity to contribute.


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