Leaders of the future are those who can leverage diversity to bring out the best from their teams.
Increasing globalisation and diversity in our workforce is making influencing more challenging. Knowing how to work effectively with different personalities and styles is just the tip of the iceberg. Now, leaders must also be able to navigate different cultural and language dynamics to get the best from their teams.
We are in the age of a borderless workforce. Organisations are no longer constrained by country organisation structures and formal reporting lines as they leverage the collective strength of their global talent pool to meet business demands. If you’re keen on accelerating your career growth, this trend opens up vast opportunities for you to shine.
PWC’s Talent Mobility 2020 and Beyond report shows that project based and short term overseas assignments are on the rise with assignments lasting less than twelve months doubling since 2002. Having worked internationally for most of my career, I highly recommend that you seek out these opportunities. The enormous personal and professional growth alone is worth it, not to mention the life-long global friendships you develop along the way. But these opportunities are only within reach if you have demonstrated your ability to flex your leadership style.
Even if you don’t land a plum overseas assignment, there are positive changes underfoot that will require a more flexible influencing approach for you to be effective long term. A Blueprint for Cultural Diversity and Inclusive Leadership issued jointly by the Australian Human Rights Commission and leading companies such as PWC, Westpac and Telstra shows that Australia is among the most culturally diverse countries in the world.
With 28% of Australia’s population born overseas and another 20% having an overseas-born parent, we have a rich tapestry of talent to draw from. But we still have a long way to go in terms of tapping into this potential. Cultural diversity is far from being represented proportionately in senior leadership positions despite growing evidence that a more diverse workforce enables better decision making and is positively correlated with better financial results. As Ajay Banga, President and CEO of MasterCard eloquently points out – how will you ever make sure you’re not blinded to the same mistakes that you can otherwise make because you can only see things through one prism.
The art of influencing is complex and nuanced. I like to think of it like a dance. There’s nothing more captivating than watching two performers execute complex steps while moving in perfect rhythm on the dance floor. But while you may know all the right technical steps, you still need to anticipate and adapt to the other person to bust out some impressive moves on the dance floor.
Parking unconscious biases at the door and adopting a more inclusive leadership approach is a good starting point. When team members don’t speak up at meetings, it doesn’t mean they don’t have anything valuable to add. Most misunderstandings and conflicts are due to different communication styles or different attitudes towards authority and decision making.
Leaders of the future are those who can tap into the synergies of a global workforce. When you can leverage diversity to bring out the best from your team, you will thrive and have access to greater opportunities. The world then is truly your oyster.
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