Welcome guest blogger and Catalyst Ranch Art-Work Program Facilitator, Troy Cicero!
Diversity and Inclusion are indeed my passion, and what I have discovered is that as organizations attempt to embark on a diversity and inclusion journey, one of the biggest challenges faced is executive level commitment. Executives often view their role as approving the diversity and inclusion process versus leading it.
My objective is to enlighten and empower my clients and audience with new strategies, tools and skills to increase organizational effectiveness, growth and accountability.
When people feel heard, valued and respected, they realize they are part of an inclusive organization, and they commit their full talents to the success of the organization.
Today’s leaders must possess genuine diversity and inclusion leadership traits. More than ever, we look to leaders for strength, passion and action. Culture is shaped through attitudes and behaviors of leaders. The ultimate goal of a diversity and inclusion leader is to ‘Build Bridges, Not Walls’ and to create and maintain a safe, respectful and inclusive workplace culture with innovative, empowered, accountable and productive employees – unencumbered by barriers that impede growth.
Diversity and Inclusion leaders embrace ten (10) traits.
- Self-awareness. Understanding oneself is integral to self-discipline. It also builds the bridge to understanding others. Exploring our upbringing, experiences, values and beliefs helps us to understand how our personal identity influences our view of others. The assumptions we formulate of others ultimately impact the decisions we make. If we rely solely on our point of view, we will make mistakes in judgment as a result of ingrained biases or prejudices.
- Vision. The ability to assess and understand the impact of diversity and inclusion on the organization, the business case and benefits of diversity and inclusion on the organization, and a leader’s role and influence on the culture and direction of the organization is a great value to an organization. John Stuart Mill once wrote: “One person with vision is greater than the passive force of ninety-nine people who are merely interested in doing or becoming something.”
- Emotional Intelligence. There will be resistance and possibly tension on a diversity and inclusion journey. Emotions and feelings have the tendency to manifest our attitudes, actions and behavior. You can be extremely intelligent, but if you aren’t effective with people, then where will the relationship end up? To be effective, leaders must model inclusive behaviors by managing and regulating their emotions and personalities.
- Empathy. People trust and respect leaders who seek to understand where others are coming from. Listening with your heart as well as your head creates collaborative and cohesive relationships. Empathy, in my opinion, is the differentiator. You can say you care, but empathy conveys you care. You can say you respect, but empathy conveys you respect. It’s not what you say, but what you convey that truly matters.
- Accountability. All stakeholders must be accountable on a diversity and inclusion journey. The leader sets the tone. Accountability is measured through business systems, strategy, standards, mission, vision, values, goals and objectives, as well as thoughts, emotions, attitudes, actions and behavior.
- Broad Perspective. Diversity and inclusion leadership involves an awareness of others and the environment. Leaders must make unpopular decisions and choices, particularly in crises. Maintaining a broad perspective affords you a keen sense of direction when formulating decisions and enables you to minimize dissent.
- Cultural Competence. We operate in a multicultural world, society, community and workplace. Every culture in the world has rules or guidelines about specific areas that tell members how to behave the right way. A danger sign that may predict a lower level of cross-cultural skill is a belief that “there is only one right way to do things.” Leaders must maintain their willingness to engage, and increase their ability to function effectively across lines of difference.
- Communication. Open and honest communication enables you to connect with people who feel fear, anger, anxiety and uncertainty. People respect leaders who share information, acknowledge feelings, present facts, give and seek feedback, manage expectations and provide support. Diversity and inclusion leaders are open to hearing and acting upon the input of those they lead.
- Commitment. Leaders must commit fully to implementing diversity and inclusion efforts. People will not follow an uncommitted leader.
- Conscious responsibility. Complacency and denial endanger progress. Diversity and inclusion leaders need to deal with potential dangers or deficiencies. Leaders who view diversity and inclusion as a program, rather than an ongoing strategy and responsibility, jeopardize growth and profitability.
Troy Cicero is President and Chief Skill Officer of MulticultuReal Communications, Inc. and is a leading consultant in the area of Diversity and Inclusion. He can be reached at: