As a leader, it is important to foster an environment that is inclusive of all voices. This includes creating an environment where different perspectives are welcomed and respected. One way to do this is by diversity of thought.
What is Diversity of Thought?
Diversity of thought refers to the inclusion of different opinions, backgrounds, and experiences in decision making.
When leaders embrace diversity of thought, they are able to make better decisions because they have access to more information and ideas. By embracing diversity of thought, leaders can create a more inclusive work environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings. This leads to a more productive and innovative team.
1st Level of Diversity of Thought: Open to the Opinions Of ‘Outsiders’
If you’re looking for ideas or working on a project, do you prioritize the input of people who have already proven themselves to be experts in that topic or field? Experts will obviously have valuable insight.
But they’re not the only ones who can add value. In fact, non-experts are the ones who are more likely to attack the problem in a new way. That might be exactly what you need. So don’t shut people out just because they don’t have the “right” credential. Otherwise, rather than diversity of thought you’re seeking conformity of thought.
2nd Level of Diversity of Thought: Proactively Seek Out the Opinions of ‘Outsiders’
Go further. Don’t just be open to the input from non-experts, proactively seek it out.
See people beyond their roles, beyond their titles, and beyond their demographic groups. Understand that a résumé doesn’t fully capture someone’s ability to contribute to an endeavor.
Be open-minded enough to let other people have influence over what and how things are done. Once you are eager to hear ideas and thoughts even from people who don’t have the title or officially recognized status as an expert, that’s when you’ll open yourself and your team to diverse thinking and innovative ideas.
3rd Level of Diversity of Thought: No Longer See People as ‘Outsiders’
Once you experience the benefit of diversity of thought, you start to understand the power of shedding the label of “outsider” altogether. It’s not easy – it’s requires vigilance to make sure you’re not automatically categorizing people, putting them in boxes based on your limited knowledge of their expertise and capacity.
But once people see your efforts in this area, they start to feel included in an authentic way. This creates an environment of trust in which people feel free to be bold and innovative without fear of being ignored or ridiculed – unlocking their full capacity.
This gives you and your team a huge advantage when adapting to new ways of working, like learning to lead in a hybrid remote setting when some are on site and others are remote. This level of trust and freedom also helps people see that it’s better to take a chance than to hide themselves, which makes you, your team and your organization more agile and prepared for a future of perpetual uncertainty.
Diversity of thought is one of those phrases that is thrown around a lot. But until you start to unpack it and understand the complexities of actually achieving it, you’ll never know its full power in helping you build an inclusive workplace and achieve inclusive leadership.
Explore your own commitment to diversity of thought with this free assessment [diversity of thought assessment]. See if your organizational culture is set up to achieve diversity of thought with this additional free assessment [LAOP Assessment].