To stay competitive, for any modern organisation, means to be creative. In this respect, creativity appears to be the balance between the established company culture and the values, ideas and enthusiasm of the individuals within. Different perspectives and ideas exposed and confronted to each other lead to better ability of the organisation to implement more innovations and be more successful in problem solving. Individuals who do not tend to agree are actually the pillars of the creativeness in the organisation.
The modern concept of the organisation doubtlessly recognises diversity as the big asset. However, it seems that this asset is not fully utilised. Sometimes it seems as if diversity is implemented as tolerance or emancipation of minority groups whereas we are advocating here incorporation of diversity in everyday organisational decision making and problem solving. At the same time, diversity embraced by the organisation makes it more sensitive and adaptable to the vast diversity of turbulent global business arena.
There is a trap for leaders to focus on individuals control mechanism, whereas a group-oriented approach may be more successful and effective through the use of team diversity (Bleijenbergh, Peters & Poutsma, 2010; Holmes, 2010). Common assumption is that individuals want or ‘should want’ to assimilate in the new organisational environment in search for their success. In practice, people tend to keep their cultural values, personal identities and lifestyle in work (Lamsa & Sintonen, 2006 as sited in Barker & Gower, 2010). In addition, the notion of ‘the melting pot’ (Roosevelt, 1990) that resolves all differences, does not support the idea of diversity.
If people are engaged in problem solving and decision making through critical evaluation, then some sort of conflict is imminent. If the arguments in discussion are based or supported by diverse backgrounds, then people may feel uneasy to explore them in full. Therefore the task of the inspirational leaders of the future will be to establish organisational culture and workplace environment where the diversity will become the advantage.
Driving forces behind modern leaders are globalisation, complex challenges and the long lasting leadership. In the future they will need new skills such as collaboration, flexible style, openness, and adeptness to new ideas (Martin, 2007). They have to improve their social skills as the key component of social intelligence, e.g. the ability to express oneself in social interactions, knowledge of social roles, norms and scripts, and social role playing (Riggio & Reichard, 2008).
It seems to be an everlasting challenge: how to unleash capabilities trapped in human capital.
- Necessity for Change - In capturing the advantage of diversity, leaders have to depart from current practice and thinking.
- It is all about the People - Leaders will have to apply more consistently ‘people skills’, they have to be able to communicate effectively and to manage social interactions and relationships (Barker & Gower, 2010) through diversity of their organisation.
- Practice diversity and quality decision making - The essential skill of future leaders will be making quality decision in spite of the presence of tension and complexity (Roosewelt,2006). Diversity management although unfamiliar to many is not that difficult to learn, but enquiring of those skills cannot be successful without practice.
- Impact of Communication - Organisations that adapted diversity as an organisational strategy should introduce language in their communication to ensure that content of the message mirrors their stand points (Edmondson, Gupte, Draman & Oliver, 2009) and at the same time perceptions of various stakeholders.
- Conflict Management - Leader’s role is to keep permanent conflict of low intensity. Role modelling behaviours of managers who enquired the skills of managing diversity will help alter the organisational culture and contribute better performance of tasks (McMahon2010). Organisations must take responsibility for making themselves aware and sensitive to diverse needs of different groups.
- EQ & SQ - Effective leadership needs to realise the challenges and complexity of diversity management. They have to have emotional intelligence to build a personal relationship with each individual and group (Bassett-Jones, 2005; Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee, 2002). Leaders should use emotional expression skills to bust a positive climate in the group. Positive emotional climate among the employees is essential in performing creative task (Mayer, Roberts & Barsade, 2008).
Create a free flow of Ideas
The ideas, the innovation, creativity are already there, in the minds and thoughts of the employees. Exchange information in a manner that is well-known within the organisation. Story like narratives establish common ground and help us to understand the experiences and world views of others. They will be encouraged to give the feedback in the same manner.
Establish grounds for development of ideas
Creative people need space and time to work on new ideas. Give them such opportunity. This will have a dual effect. On one side people want to do well, and on another they want to feel important. Creativity will become contagious in this kind of environment. We should just have to look at the innovative success stories of today.
Encourage implementation of ideas
It is very important to test new ideas, even if we are not convinced that their implementation will be successful. To keep desirable level of creativity in the organisation it is not enough just to motivate people ‘to be creative’. They need to see the purpose of their efforts. Furthermore, if implementation of new ideas is seen from others as possible, it could encourage them also to come forward with their own ideas. Even if the implementation of the project fails, it creates a challenge for new attempts.
- Unlocking the hidden potential
- Gaining a competitive advantage by being one step in front of others
- Creating highly attractive environment for potential employees
- Improving emotional climate in culturally diverse groups
- Decreasing the cost of staff turnover
The first step is to recognise the content of diversity within an organisation in terms of cultures, age, gender, ethnicity, race, religion, personal experiences.