If you want to increase diversity, then you need to think like an entrepreneur.
Could adopting the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs be the key to senior leaders moving the dial on D&I? It occurs to me that these qualities are the exact qualities leaders must bring to their roles in order be make real and sustainable change.
- Be passionate. If you want to move the dial on diversity, you’re going to have to be passionate. Entrepreneurs are deeply passionate about the businesses they build. This gives them resilience in the tough times and the kind of militant focus that allows them to move their business forward. You’re going to have to be passionate about diversity and all the benefits it brings if you want to move the dial in your organisation. Employees can smell tokenism miles away. They can also tell when someone doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Your passion is going to have to carry you through the frustrations of having to break down many barriers and stubborn mindsets. Your passion will have to fuel your curiosity to continue learning and expanding your knowledge. Your passion will have to inspire those around you.
- Perseverance. Successful entrepreneurs are inherently optimistic and incessantly curious. They believe there is a way to solve each problem that crosses their path. They don’t give up. They are not easily dissuaded. They go the extra mile. Every successful entrepreneur can talk about a time they failed. Failure is merely an invitation to have another go, armed with stronger knowledge of what does and doesn’t work. Persevere.
- Take risks. Encourage risk-taking. Mostof them will be perceived risks, not real risks anyway. Encourage your people to take risks. To hire people not like them. To hire people who bring different experiences and insights to their team. Find innovative solutions for every problem you encounter, even if it feels a bit risky.
- Adjust and adapt.Look for new ways of doing things. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
- Don’t follow the crowd.Entrepreneurs are terrific at coming up with new innovations. Leading the industry they operate in. They don’t follow what other businesses are doing and nor should you feel pressure to copy other businesses D&I initiatives. Beware the marketeers. Organisations can do a brilliant job at marketing D&I initiatives that ultimately make very little change to the actual culture or create any sustainable change. Use your curious nature and passion to assess, reflect, and create the actions that you believe will enable diversity and inclusion to flourish in your organisation.