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Using Optimism & Diversity to Become a Better Leader

 

Optimistic leaders tend to reframe challenges as opportunities. They stay calm in high-pressure situations, take setbacks with stride, and bounce back quickly from failure.

Leaders who embrace diversity open the door for innovation and creative solutions. They notice a lack of ingenuity when everyone on the team looks, sounds, and thinks similarly.

Here’s how you can infuse optimism and diversity into your management style to become a better leader.

Leading with Optimism

Some leaders are born optimistic, while others have to consciously work on it. If you fall into the latter camp, there are several ways you can start building this muscle.

To become an optimistic leader, you need to understand the qualities and characteristics.

Anticipation of Success

Like a sports coach, optimistic leaders don’t just want to win; they believe they will win. In business, leaders who model this mindset give others the confidence to continually aim for success.

Seeking Creative Solutions

Instead of dwelling on problems, optimistic leaders focus on solutions. That doesn’t mean they ignore the reality of a situation. They’d rather devote the majority of their energy to creative problem-solving.

Showing Gratitude

Optimistic leaders express gratitude openly. They are quick and eager to say, “thank you,” to employees at all levels. And when they say it, they mean it.

Rolling With the Punches

Optimistic leaders see failure as an integral part of the learning process. When things go wrong, they pick themselves up, analyze the situation, and reset with a new plan.

Communicating an Inspiring Vision

Optimistic leaders know how to communicate their vision for a better future. Because they believe wholeheartedly in that vision, they inspire others to rally around it.

Maintaining an Open Mindset

Always thinking ahead, an optimistic leader is a big thinker who’s eager to explore new possibilities. They are energized by the unknown and are drawn to out-of-the-box ideas.

Avoiding the Blame Game

Optimistic leaders have no interest in pointing fingers. When mistakes are made, they help their employees reflect on what happened together as a team.

Leading With Diversity

Building an inclusive workplace culture takes more than hiring diverse talent for entry and mid-level positions. For your business to benefit fully from workplace inclusivity, which may include improved revenues and increased innovation, it’s vital you hire more women and minorities for the C-suite and other key posts.

Once you're committed to fostering leadership diversity, these five steps will help.

Understand What It Means to Be Diverse

People often associate diversity solely with race, ethnicity, and gender. And while these are important factors, diversity goes much further and includes:

 

  • Physical ability
  • National origin
  • Education
  • Age
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religious beliefs
  • Socioeconomic background
  • Veteran status
  • Parent or family caregiver status

As this list illustrates, diversity is about representation. If you’re committed to boosting diversity, work to ensure an array of people see themselves in your workplace—from entry-level to leadership posts.

Make Sure Stakeholders Are On Board

Stakeholders are essential to diversifying leadership. Connect with them to explain the advantages inclusion can offer your company.

Financial Benefits

Leading with the financial advantages is a solid way to approach the conversation with stakeholders. Diversity can help boost innovation, which can lead to better employee performance, higher revenue gains, and more profitability according to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Better Talent

Job seekers pay attention to organizational diversity. Inclusion, or its absence, can often influence younger candidates’ decision-making. Lacking diversity could cost companies top talent if candidates choose to work for businesses that demonstrate more inclusiveness.

Compliance

Nationwide, corporate inclusivity laws are becoming more standard. And with that comes various regulations to which companies must adhere. Having a diverse leadership team already in place can be beneficial when facing an assortment of complex compliance regulations.

Consult Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Experts

To help ensure you’re on the right path to seeking diversity in your leadership team, it can be helpful to connect with outside experts.

These professionals will not only have the knowledge you need but also the tools, resources, and know-how to help you steer essential conversations around relevant topics. When these specialists are also trained in HR compliance, they can help your company navigate local, state, and federal laws and regulations.

Hire the Right Person for the Role

Hiring executive-level talent is similar to employing other positions because you’re searching for the best person for the job. Therein lies the dilemma, particularly if you’re leaning on old methods of hiring, which result in less diverse candidates. 

If you’re fully committed to diversifying your leadership, consider:

  • Promoting from within
  • Reaching out to career service offices at historically black colleges as well as women’s campuses
  • Overhauling job descriptions to ensure neutral, inclusive wording
  • Practicing blind hiring: a recruiting method where you omit information that can expose a candidate’s demographics to help minimize unconscious bias

Remember: the recruiting process can be a chance to collaborate with HR specialists, industry professionals, and members of professional organizations who share your commitment to diversity. With their help, you may find a wider, more inclusive group of qualified candidates.

Offer Diversity Support Resources

Once you’ve hired and trained a more diverse team, it’s important to continue nurturing workplace diversity. It’s integral to help members of your diverse workforce connect with co-workers who share common traits, experiences, and perspectives.

This can be done by creating employee resource groups (ERGs). These groups can help reinforce connections and belonging between employees, potentially lengthening their tenure with your company. The longer these employees stick around, the more apt they are to move up the ranks to become future leaders.

In other words, ERGs can play a meaningful role in talent development. For instance, group leaders can offer lunch-and-learn events, bring in guest speakers, and facilitate peer mentoring—all with the intent of helping employees advance their careers.

Using Optimism & Diversity to Become a Better Leader

Now you know why it’s important to lead with a focus on optimism and diversity.

When you manage with an optimistic mindset, you’ll be ready to take advantage of the brighter days that lie ahead. A sustained effort in diversity can help your company attract the right talent and build a better workforce.

Infusing optimism and diversity into your leadership style will help you and your employees work together toward the future.

 

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Research

Vistage Research Center publishes actionable, data-driven insights and expert perspectives from our global community of CEOs and thought leaders. Led by Joe Galvin, Chief Research Officer