In their effort to improve diversity, spark innovation and engage employees, companies are creating executive positions, implementing resource groups, conducting engagement surveys and implementing new programs. It’s all good stuff and some have had great success. But for those who are still struggling to move forward, it may be time to address the elephant in the room . . . leadership.
Leaders create a work environment that garners trust, facilitates inclusion, sparks innovation and engages employees. They do this by being fair and objective, providing professional development and career opportunities, allowing their employees a voice in the process, connecting employees to a purpose and appreciating, recognizing and rewarding employees.
Unfortunately there are still many leaders in the workplace who lack the skills needed to make it so. This is compounded by the recent wave of leadership retirements that result in placing new and inexperienced leaders in leadership positions with little or no development forcing them to use a sink or swim approach to leadership. And while senior management continues to initiate programs and processes to facilitate an engaging work environment that embraces diversity and fosters innovation, many have failed to recognize the need to hone leadership skills to support the effort.
If leadership skills are so critical in building trust and facilitating a work environment that is inclusive, innovative and engaging, why are companies not spending more time on developing leaders? It’s the classic case of the elephant in the room.
Building a cadre of strong and engaging leaders takes time. It requires an effective development program that helps leaders learn about themselves, their style, how to build teams and develop strategy. Leaders also benefit from coaching to strengthen their skills and periodic assessments to help them build on their strengths.
If your company is struggling to make inroads in diversity, innovation or engagement, maybe it’s time to take a hard look at one thing that would make a significant difference . . . awesome leaders!
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