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2020 vision – If you only focus on one Leadership initiative for D&I it should be this ….

For anyone who has trouble with their eyesight, we know that there are many solutions out there, they all do a similar job (glasses, contact lenses, laser surgery etc) but the decision quite often comes down to a choice between comfort, quality, price, long term or short-term impact and of then course our needs might change, so how do we choose short of trial and error?

The same issue exists with choosing the right leadership initiative to support your organisations needs especially on an issue as important and as wide-reaching as Diversity and Inclusion.  The facts that need to be considered are the same: quality, price, long term impact, comfort, maybe with the exception of comfort …… actually, this can be a very important factor to consider, as we know that the best learning occurs when we are out of our comfort zone.  We also know that when it comes to Diversity and Inclusion training the isolated half-day training programmes simply don’t have the longer-term impact on behavioural change that is required. Quite often they are very interesting sessions that are forgotten when we return to our desks.

‘Training interventions must not be isolated activities, but instead integrated with other diversity-related initiatives into broad cohesive programmes.’

What if there was a solution that bought together a number of your corporate initiatives including diversity and inclusion, with a relatively small number of people but having a big impact, tapping into the resources that you already have and solving business challenges in an agile way …. too good to be true …. read on.

Connected Leadership a bespoke  programme that supports your leaders

I have spent 3 years formulating Connected Leadership a bespoke  programme based on a combination of growth mindset, reverse mentoring and relationship-building principles.  It capitalises on the resources you already have within your organisation by connecting the leaders of your business to a different way of thinking.

By building new relationships over time in a safe and trusted environment and allowing your leaders to really hear both the different opinions and ideas within your organisation and the true heartbeat of engagement and inclusion.

I had the pleasure of speaking at the CIMA Diversity & Inclusion event last week in London  where I talked about the issue of diversity being at odds with inclusivity and our businesses are challenged to address both.  Diversity is a topic that is definitely gaining more awareness and slowly becoming more mainstream. We are starting to see the dials change within organisations, however, some of the current initiatives supporting diversity such as Employee Networks or dedicated leadership programmes (Women, BAME, LGBT+ etc) are having a negative impact on our ability to be inclusive.

There is definitely a place for these networks, it is important that we all feel connected to people like us, who understand us and that we have a safe environment to discuss the challenges we face, however we need to ensure that we are not just creating new silo’s and bigger divides. It is essential that if our organisations are to be truly diverse AND inclusive then all the voices in these networks need to be heard and included in the everyday functioning of the business.

My passion and motivation

My passion for leaders to embrace the power of listening to (and hearing) ideas from different people, comes from a motivational speaker that I heard when I was a young finance manager 15+ years ago. I was attending a Sainsburys Finance Team away day. We were lucky enough to have a motivational speaker by the name of Pete Goss  I remember this wonderful gentleman arrived in the room of 50+ finance people and took to the stage to talk about his life experience.

Pete talked to us about his experience during the 1996 Vendee Globe, Solo around the world Yacht race where disaster had struck a fellow sailor. During a severe storm in the Southern Ocean, he gave up his lead and turned his boat around and spent two days sailing into hurricane force winds, finally finding Dinelli a French sailor in a life-raft, that had been dropped by an Australian Air Force plane shortly before the yacht had sunk.

This story was amazing for many reasons, heroic, dangerous, global teamwork, language barriers, compassion and humility etc, but the element that resonated with me the most was as follows; during this stressful, challenging and time critical rescue operation, they had extreme difficulty with speed of communication between the crew on the boats, the pilots on the aircraft and the support teams on land. This rescue was being attempted on very rough seas, making it almost impossible for Pete to find the injured French sailor in his small life raft.

Then an inspired idea was put forward, put the helicopters landing lights on directly above the life raft, this idea gave Pete a beacon to sail towards, enabling the rescue to be successful. This idea did not come from the most experienced person, or the highest ranking or even the most ocean aware, but from the youngest crew member on the helicopter, who had been selected at the last minute to make up the numbers on the helicopter.

Where might the best new idea or solution come from in your organisation – and more importantly do you have the environment or relationships to hear it?

So if you are looking at one solution in 2020, to your leadership and D&I challenges, look no further than an experience exchange programme. Connect your leaders to people with different experiences across the silos in your organisation, learn to build trusted and engaging relationships over time, expanding their frames of reference and growing their ability to solve business challenges with new ideas.

Watch – H2M show reel.