Why You Should Promote Diversity

We live in a society that constantly and desperately attempts to separate us into buckets and cause division. And who can blame this society? As humans, we try to make rational generalizations based on observation and using that data to understand the world. However, people are interesting. As I wrote last week in How to Fight Insecurity, we are all different in some way, which would mean that the neat piles that our society tries to place us in get pretty messy pretty quickly.

Diversity is needed. I actually spoke on this recently: we are all different, not divided. Without diversity, there can’t be inclusion. This is one of those concepts that turn out to be pretty counterintuitive. But how can this be? Wouldn’t decision making, vision casting, and leading be easier if everyone thought the same way and had the same motivations? Of course it would be easier! However, when you think about it organizationally, who benefits from a homogeneous culture where everyone is a cookie-cutter participant? Only the decision makers.

Conflict spawns from diversity since different people have differing opinions and thoughts. This is a good thing! This kind of conflict helps us see the same issue from a different angle and allows us to reframe the problem in a better light, which will lead to a better decision. But I must end this post with a caveat: diversity and conflict is only effective (not efficient) if and only if everyone buys into the final decision even if the idea wasn’t their own and they vehemently disagree.

What are some ways you manage diversity in your organization? What are some other benefits you see from having a diverse culture? Have you every strongly disagreed with something but still bought into the vision?

How to Fight Insecurity

If I’m honest, insecurity is my biggest struggle as a leader. I don’t know what it is, but when I see someone doing something better than me, I get angry. Beyond that, if I see someone doing something that I’m not able to do at all, I envy that person. I sincerely hope I’m not alone in this feeling.

What’s interesting about this is that each and every one of us has a specific set of skills that we’re meant to use in order to contribute to society. We’re not all meant to have the same set of skills, and even for those of us who have similar skills, we’re still differentiated enough that we each have our own specific impact. My speaking or writing style is my own, and I don’t need to adjust it to how someone else speaks or writes because I’m not them.

You have a specific impact you’re meant to have on this world. No one can lead like you can. No one can speak like you can. No one can do what you do like you can, and that’s what makes life beautiful. Be secure in who you are and how you lead. Craig Groeschel, one of my favorite speakers, always says, “Be real. People always prefer to follow a leader who is always real than one who is always right.”

Have your aspirations; be inspired to learn something new; continue to grow, but be yourself in whatever you do. Be secure in who you are and confident in the fact that you have significance and the ability to make the difference.

What are some ways that insecurity creeps into your life? How can you prevent jealousy from influencing your leadership?

How to Get What You Want Without Hurting Other People

As I was researching this topic of assertiveness, I realized there is a stigma that needs to be addressed. Assertiveness is not aggression. Assertiveness is also not passivity. What assertiveness is is the seeking of mutual gain through healthy confrontation. It seems that naturally more passive people think that assertive people are aggressive, and, interestingly, it seems also that naturally more aggressive people think less-than-bold assertive people are passive. It’s a strange continuum, but regardless, you want to be at the assertive stage in that line.

So why is assertiveness important? We live in a very demanding world. Other people are demanding of our time and resources, and often, the return on your investment in those situations can be very low. Sometimes it will pay off, but I believe that a majority of the time, you will lose out. Assertiveness is the ability to say “no” to something good so you can say “yes” to something better. Assertiveness is your protection from people walking over you like a door mat.

This is where the quote for the week comes into play. Assertiveness is an important skill in relationships, but it is not a manipulative one. It’s important that, in negotiations, debates, and other “joint undertakings,” both parties benefit. Assertiveness does not allow for one person or the other to end up with the short end of the stick – it is designed so that the two people in a relationship get as close to an equal share of the stick as possible without any substantial, one-sided sacrifice.

Are you an assertive person? What can you do to become more assertive about your needs and desires? Are you too passive? Too aggressive?

What Makes a Leader?

Check out my first post on this topic, What Is Leadership?

I’m going to start off with a statement that will likely be taken as controversial but is mostly a disclaimer: I believe anyone can be a leader. Leadership is like any other skill or talent; it can be developed and made better and learned over time. However, just like any other talent, there are people who have a greater inclination to leadership. But as Kevin Durant’s high school basketball coach Tim Notke said: “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work.”

Now with that out of the way, I must say another controversial statement: being good at what you do does not make you a leader. No amount of knowledge about your task can make you a good leader, but only practicing good leadership with yourself, your peers, your family, and your superiors. Leadership is much more than just being the best at what you do. Don’t get me wrong, that is part of the equation, but it doesn’t end there. Leadership is all about people. You can be the best salesman, speaker, presenter, manufacturer, manager on your floor and still not be a leader.

So what makes a leader then? Followers. If you don’t have anyone following you, how are you a leader? Now, of course this doesn’t mean that you have people physically following you everywhere you go like some great philosopher of old, but it does mean that you have someone looking up to you; it means having someone that you work with regularly to help them become a better them.

As leaders, we are not supposed to “fix” people, but we are supposed to direct, encourage, challenge, and lead them to where they need to go. It is our jobs to point out where someone (me, you, the organization) is, explain that there is more than what’s here, and then paint the picture of what the other side looks like.

Do you have anyone following you? If not, what can you do differently to fulfill your leadership potential?

Why Your Ideas Don’t Land

Communication is an extremely part of life, and not just in leadership. Really, anyone can talk about anything, but it takes special practice to get your ideas across in an intelligible way. What this boils down to is being concise.

I think we’ve all experienced the leader (and been the leader) who rambles on and on to try and make a point, but by the time their point is made, you’ve lost focus because you couldn’t keep up with their multiple trains of thought. We have good ideas and good intentions, but sometimes the message gets muddled up in an excessive string of words. Even if you have the best, world-changing idea, it won’t matter if you can’t accurately and concisely convey that message in a way that is understood by the other person.

This is something that I often struggle with, and it’s honestly why I try to keep my blog posts at about 300 words. It forces me to focus in on my message and only pick the most appropriate pieces of stories that will get my point across. I often feel like I have a lot to say, but what good is it if I cloud my point with unnecessary words that will only lead to confusion.

Part of being concise is choosing the right words to say in a certain context, which is another thing I really struggle with. Mark Twain said, “Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.” I think sometimes we all want to feel like we’re smart, and an easy way to do that is to use big words. While big words have their place, they’re not always necessary and can often detract from the conciseness of your message.

As I wrap up this post, I want to leave you with a question: What are some things you can do to make yourself more concise? Do you feel you are too longwinded and vague? How do you think that affects other people?