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In last week’s post, “Planning for an Uncertain Future Through Storytelling,” I emphasized the importance of diversity on your teams as they create and rehearse future scenarios, and I mentioned briefly that I didn’t want you to just convene a diverse group and then leave them to work and hope for the best. Today I’m going to dig into the reasons behind this a little bit more. Understanding what makes for a diverse team, and how to unleash the creative power of a diverse group of people, is an essential part of your leadership practice.
I want to start by telling you a little bit about what it was like for me to grow up Mormon.
Growing up a Mormon in Northern California meant I grew up in a religious minority. (This was very different from what I experienced as a Mormon as a teenager in Salt Lake City, Utah.) Anyway – as a kid I used to hear a particular saying all the time: “Be in the world, not of the world.” I internalized that meaning: I was set apart, leading a very different life from nearly everyone around me. In our house that also meant we didn’t listen to the radio and our tv-watching was limited to Sunday night episodes of The Muppets. I didn’t think anything was wrong with any of that – like most kids, I thought the way I grew up was normal – but I did understand that, structurally, we were outsiders. But the message to be in the world not of the world also meant that I understood our outsider-status was valuable.
I think this mentality was supposed to create a sort of “circle the wagons” effect, which was certainly consistent with the Mormon Pioneer ethos. But it had the opposite effect for me: it made me super curious about the outside. My curiosity led to all sorts of questions that often made the adults around me uncomfortable. Like, if Jesus was a Jew, and we follow Jesus’s teachings, why aren’t we Jewish? And why do we think the Jewish people won’t have a place in the Kingdom of Heaven? In fact, I pushed that question so far that for a while my life goal was to grow up to be a gray-bearded old man who argued the Torah.
Anyway. I was also a voracious reader, and I especially loved mythology. It didn’t take me long to see that the stories I learned about Jesus and Heavenly Father were a lot like the Greek and Roman myths I loved so much. I totally understood the power of those myths – the ways they explained the world, made order of randomness, and maintained standards and belief – and the way they explained the inexplicable was one thing I loved about them. But I was super confused about how the people around me separated truth from myth. It made no sense to me that I was expected to believe Zeus and Apollo and Hades were fictional, and yet know with certainty that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost were real. I used to wonder: if the Gods people believed in in the past turned out to be imaginary, would our God too?
I struggled a lot with the contradictions I saw around me – differences in cultures, beliefs, values, and norms. I think the heart of my struggle was that I was told one single way was right and true, and yet that truth seemed inconsistent and contradictory. What I didn’t know then, and what the adults around me didn’t explain, is that there are many ways of thinking about the world – there are many different frameworks and models that we apply to make sense out of things.
I learned THAT in college. My Intro to Psych course bored me because I thought it was telling me truths about how humans think and behave. But when I took my first literature class on critical theory and was explicitly taught that there are many ways to read a text and those differing frameworks lead to different results, I lit up. I could not get enough of gender studies, queer theory, new historicism, semiotics, feminism…all the cognitive models I was taught not as monolithic truths but as ways of exploring and analyzing the world. I experienced all this as super-sexy – my brain was 🔥 on fire! 🔥 and I felt more alive and alert to the world than I ever had before. I think I went to graduate school mostly because I loved the way it feels to think like this, and I wanted to do it for the rest of my life.
All of which is a long way of saying that my upbringing showed me that there were many ways of thinking that were not the ways I was expected to think. Growing up as an outsider meant difference was fundamental to my experience. This all started making sense when I realized there are legitimately diverse ways of thinking. So in an odd way, even as a white kid on the west coast, I grew up enmeshed in a kind of diversity – not called that, of course – and that seeded an intellectual curiosity that still motivates me today.
Calling that diversity, though, has proven challenging for me. I have found it hard to talk about these experiences as experiences with diversity because other people don’t really see diversity at work in this story. I find this especially challenging on college campuses. In higher ed, we take it as a given that folks think differently – that’s the heart of disciplinary expertise, after all. But in my experience it’s rare that we consider different ways of thinking to be “diversity.”
And I want to unpack that for a minute, and offer up an idea that I don’t thinks is very popular: diversity is more than race. I am absolutely not saying that race isn’t important. To the contrary: it’s so important that we should call it what it is. But often, we don’t. Instead, we use diversity as a euphemism for racial representation – we use race as a proxy for diversity. And I sometimes find that white people particularly use Blackness as a proxy for diversity.
A recent story from Cal Poly exemplifies this problem. A student walking across campus one day noticed how many banners hanging around campus represented racial diversity, which prompted him to investigate whether that representation matched reality.
It did not.
The student is a journalism major, and he went on to interview the students pictured on the banners and he used those interviews as the basis for a piece for the school newspaper called “Black Alumni Criticize Cal Poly’s Use of their Image on Banners.” When the student’s story was picked up by The Chronicle of Higher Education, they used this as an opportunity to share broader context about how universities represent their racial demographics.
The Chronicle cites a study that analyzed over 10,000 photographs from 165 four-year, US institutions in order to assess the accuracy of photographic portrayal of diversity in recruitment materials. The researchers found that
“…the majority of institutions provided images of diversity to prospective students in 2011 that were significantly different than the actual student body. Furthermore, diversity was typically symbolized by portraying African American students at higher rates rather than presenting a more representative student body.”
I have worked at one Hispanic-serving institution, and I appreciated how much our marketing materials reflected the racial diversity of our campus. I see different things happening, though, at many PWIs. But as the study above indicates, this is not uncommon.
Here’s the abstract of a different study, this published in 2018, about how universities represent race on their websites:
“Universities are under pressure to represent the ethno-racial diversity of their student bodies in the most favorable light via their websites. We analyzed the race/ethnicity tables and figures featured prominently on the websites of 158 colleges and universities. We found 3 practices that institutions undertake to enhance the appearance of diversity on campus: omission, aggregation, and addition of ethno-racial categories. Universities with the lowest levels of student diversity were the most likely to engage in these practices. We understand these practices to be organizational-level racial projects.(Omi & Winant, 2015)
That is, universities are actively transforming “the content and importance of racial categories.”
When an institution uses race as its primary signifier for diversity, it does more than misrepresent its racial demographics – which is bad enough. It also fails to engage with diversity and inclusion writ large, because it misses the fuller picture of diversity on campus. That’s the bigger issue I want to take up in today’s episode – how to really harness the power of the full range of diversity on our campuses – but first I want to linger over the effects on people of using race as a proxy for diversity.
When PWIs use race as the primary indicator of diversity, it is immensely taxing to colleagues with brown and black skin. A PWI with few Black employees, for example, may ask them to participate in service in disproportionate numbers. If skin color is your primary marker of diversity, and you want every committee and task force to be (quote/unquote) diverse, and only a small percentage of your faculty and staff have black or brown skin, then they’re going to be asked to serve on a lot of committees. In this case, the institution may feel like it’s making strides in its representation, but meanwhile, those colleagues are suffering.
That’s not a totally random example – I’ve personally seen it in action and I’m guessing lots of you have, too – and it’s supported by a growing body of literature exploring the challenges faced by folks with brown and black skin who work for primarily white institutions. For example:
In December 2020, Joann Trejo published an article in the journal Molecular Biology of the Cell about “the minority tax.” She argues that “Despite low representation, faculty of color are disproportionately tasked with service to enhance diversity and inclusion of the academy, often to the detriment of their research and academic success.”
In January 2021 the “Race on Campus” newsletter of The Chronicle addressed “The mental burden of minority professors on campus.” This article cites a history professor at Georgetown who notes that
“faculty of color are serving students in a deeper way and also having to represent the institution in a deeper way while still being required to meet the obligations of teaching and research and service. [….] These unfair expectations lead to a lot of faculty of color being unable to craft careers that are meaningful and sustainable.”
In June 2021, Wendi Williams wrote a piece for Inside Higher Ed about the invisible emotional labor BIPOC faculty and staff take on on college campuses, offering specific, concrete advice for PWIs to take steps to make this labor visible and to reward the people performing it.
And then just a few months ago, in May, the “Race on Campus” newsletter reported on the reasons faculty of color give for leaving the University of Michigan, saying that “former faculty cite similar reasons for leaving”: “taking on more service work than their peers, a lack of leadership opportunities, and the department’s climate.”
And it’s not just faculty who suffer. In March of this year the “Race on Campus” newsletter covered the topic, “When RAs of Color Take on Emotional Labor for Their White Residents,” addressing the many institutional landmines and fraught power dynamics BIPOC RAs have to navigate at PWIs in order to keep their jobs and tuition benefits.
In June 2021 the California Law Review published a piece called “The Discounted Labor of BIPOC Students & Faculty.” The authors argue that
“Black Law Students experienced a different COVID-19 pandemic than their majority counterparts due in part to the emotional and physical toll caused by the violent, public mistreatment of Black persons at the hands of law enforcement. [….] Meanwhile, Black faculty and faculty of color, who were experiencing their own trials with pandemic teaching, childcare, increased service obligations and mental fatigue from the political and racial unrest, were often called upon to contribute substantial time to the design and implementation of the “diversity” or “anti-racism” initiatives necessary to increase diversity and to create inclusive environments for their BIPOC students and faculty.
Most of this labor is discounted, if acknowledged at all. We articulate the disparities among BIPOC faculty and staff and their majority counterparts […] and offer recommendations for how law schools can help shift some of these burdens away from their BIPOC communities.”
These pieces just skim the surface. The literature on this topic is wide-ranging and I’m guessing we’ve all seen examples of this and have probably heard our colleagues and students discuss their struggles with PWIs over-reliance on the emotional labor of BIPOC folk.
I’ve lingered over this because I think it’s important to say, out loud, that relying on race in many of the ways we do at PWIs can perpetuate racist behavior. That reliance contributes to inequitable conditions and additional barriers to success for colleagues with black and brown skin. These inequities and barriers literally derail people’s careers and education. No matter how well-intentioned these efforts at inclusion might be, they run the risk of reifying structural exclusion.
To put it bluntly, when we use race as a proxy for diversity we are defaulting to tokenism, which in turn puts unfair burdens on just a few of our colleagues, which then perpetuates, even inadvertently, the racism and historical exclusion we’re trying to eliminate or mitigate.
I don’t find that overly difficult to say, but I have struggled to say it in a way that invites conversation and curiosity. I have personally recommended to Black women colleagues that they decline a particular request for service, and then been called on the carpet for not supporting campus diversity. We need a better, a richer understanding of what diversity can mean, and we need to quit perpetuating others’ suffering out of well-intentioned yet harmful tokenism.
Which brings me to today’s topic. Earlier this year I encountered another way of thinking about diversity that I’ve found immensely helpful in my own thinking and approach to inclusion. It informed what I talked about in the storytelling post, but while I mentioned it I didn’t really go into it. So that’s what I thought I’d do today.
Last spring I listened to a series of lectures from “The Great Courses” on Audible called “The Hidden Factor: Why Thinking Differently is Your Greatest Asset.” The lecturer is Scott Page, a professor at the University of Michigan where he teaches modeling, game theory, microeconomics, and complex systems. Page uses math and models to give scientific explanations of how human behavior works. I loved his lectures so much I read his related book, The Diversity Bonus: How great teams pay off in the knowledge economy.
This book crystallizes the conundrum I’ve been experiencing and haven’t yet figured out how to explain.
Page defines two kinds of diversity: identity diversity and cognitive diversity. They are both exactly what they sound like: diversity in our bodies, backgrounds, and life experiences – all the things that make up our identities (identities we claim and identities we are socially assigned); and diversity in the ways we think, understand the world, and solve problems. Obviously, these two kinds of diversity are interrelated and can’t easily be disentangled. Even more, identity diversity contributes significantly to cognitive diversity, both because our experiences shape us, and what we look like and we’re from either opens, or closes, doors of opportunity, which affects our possibilities and experiences. Even with all this interrelatedness, though, identity and cognitive diversity are distinct categories.
A reliance on identity diversity may be what’s behind the behavior I describe above, where skin color – one of our most visible markers of identity, even if it’s an uncertain marker – stands as a proxy for diversity. Skin color is often more visible than sexual orientation, or religion, or nationality, or socio-economic class, or education level, or many other aspects of our intersectionality. I wish that, if we’re going to use the word diversity to mean identity diversity, we could find a way to incorporate our full identities into our definition. Such an expanded definition would benefit those of us who don’t yet see diversity as rich intersectionality, AND it would benefit our overtaxed colleagues of color: with a broader definition of diversity we would likely engage more, and different kinds, of people in diversity work, and also – and this really matters – our colleagues of color would be seen and valued for more than their racial representation.
Familiarizing myself with Page’s work, I realized I personally have been struggling to put words to what he describes as cognitive diversity – which is, essentially, our various ways of thinking: the frameworks and models we use to understand the world.
The stories I shared about my childhood curiosity and what excited me in college help me see that I’ve been drawn to cognitive diversity for most of my life. The idea of “cognitive diversity” gives us a concrete way to explain the value of having diversity in a group. Cognitive diversity explains why it’s better to have many different kinds of thinkers engaged in problem-solving. It illuminates the business case for the value of diversity because cognitive diversity leads to better problem-solving.
This is the case Page makes in his book The Diversity Bonus: if you have a complex problem to solve, that problem will almost always be solved better and more accurately if it is solved by a group with high levels of cognitive diversity. Page develops these claims based on research and experiments, and supports them with models, theorems, and logic propositions – all “proofs” of various sorts. He demonstrates, repeatedly and in varied contexts, that groups of diverse people working on a complex task together generally perform better than individuals OR homogenous groups.
This isn’t a universal truth and Page is clear about when and why cognitive diversity is not an asset. But for today, I want to take his proposition about cognitive diversity and problem-solving and use it to explore two different areas where cognitive diversity is relevant to our conversations about leadership.
First, I want to use the framework of cognitive diversity to dig a little deeper into what I encouraged you to think about last week: how to create diverse teams in order to tell stories about, and then rehearse, the future, as a way of preparing and planning.
Then I want to explore some behaviors and mindsets you can incorporate into your leadership practice to create diversity bonuses for your team.
When I suggested that you try storytelling and scenario-building as part of planning for your institution’s future, I listed “prioritizing diversity” as your first step. I based that recommendation on Page’s work demonstrating that diverse teams are better at solving complex problems – and certainly, preparing for an uncertain future by imaging many different futures and then being ready for all of them is a complex task.
I also noted that the stories your teams write are not meant to be predictions. And what I meant by that is that those stories aren’t meant to tell a single truth about a unified future. But they *are* predictions along the “if/then” model. Your storytelling teams are essentially combining and recombining environmental factors and critical uncertainties – a bunch of “ifs” – and then identifying what the world could look like if those particular pieces came together in different ways – a bunch of “thens.”
Page’s work on predictions helps us understand why cognitive diversity will lead you to better stories about the future. He offers up what he calls the diversity theorem, which, technically, is the statement that “The squared error of the collective prediction equals the average squared error minus the predictive diversity.” In layperson’s terms, this basically means when there is large diversity in a crowd making predictions, the crowd’s error is small.
Why? Because “diversity…becomes significant on difficult predictions, where no one [single] model will be correct. In those cases, predictions based on different information, categories, and models will make different errors. These less correlated errors produce a more accurate collective prediction.” (p. 71)
Diversity on a team means that team will include more errors, misconceptions, and flaws in their thinking because more world-views, mindsets, mental maps, and previous experiences are influencing people’s contributions. That richness – including the errors – is what produces the improved result. This “abundance of cognitive tools” gives the team more material to work with and more ways to think about that material. (163)
This plays out repeatedly in research. As just one example, Page shares the results of “a simulated stock market experiment, [where] traders were assigned to either homogeneous or ethnically diverse groups. The members of diverse groups questioned price deviations more critically and produced fewer, and smaller, bubbles. An analysis shows that their market prices were nearly 60 percent more accurate.” (160)
When I read that, it occurred to me that diversity – or lack thereof – may be a contributing factor to the homogeneity of university strategic plans around the country. Perhaps our plans look so similar because of the lack of diversity in who conceives of them, and maybe also because what diversity there is in the planning group isn’t put to good use. And by lack of diversity I’m not just referring to the homogeneity of college leadership. Most colleges undertake their strategic planning as a campus-wide exercise, with input from students and employees of all types and at all levels, so the opportunity for rich cognitive diversity is there.
However, conversations about our future often are framed in the same way and then approached with similar models. We tend to see a future that is increasingly competitive and expensive. The strategic planning process essentially takes for granted that to stay in business we must get even better at the things we already do. Since we all, more or less, do the same thing – educate adults of varying ages to prepare them for meaningful lives – we all are trying to get better at the same things. And many of us are operating from a scarcity mindset: the fear that there aren’t enough resources and assets for everyone. So we’re all just trying to do the same thing as everyone else, and do it better enough that we gain a competitive edge. The notion that cognitive diversity gives us more models and better results helps explain why, when a group of people think the same way as each other, they’ll tend to come up with similar solutions. And thus we all end up with strategic plans that essentially include getting better at teaching, recruiting and retaining more students, and making more money.
On the other hand, the storytelling approach to planning, as espoused by Peter Schwartz in The Art of the Long View, breaks this mold. It doesn’t assume that our goal is to get better at what we already do. It assumes that our goal is to respond to changes as they unfold. In other words, it removes the homogeneity from the process. And it does so by making use of cognitive diversity.
But for this to work – for problem-solving groups to truly harness their diversity and achieve diversity bonuses – two variables must be present.
First, the diversity present must be germane to the problem. Cognitive diversity is not germane, for example, to repetitive physical tasks – Page uses the example of chopping logs. If you want the most logs chopped in an hour, you need a team of people who have the particular skill of log-chopping who can perform the task successfully over a period of time. But cognitive diversity is germane to complex intellectual tasks that could have multiple, competing solutions.
Second, the team needs psychological safety. I say this not based on Page’s work but on my experience leading teams. You can have all the diversity you want in a room, but if people believe their ideas don’t matter and their voices won’t be heard, they won’t speak up. This can be especially true for groups who are historically excluded, and I think it’s also likely true for colleagues who are overtaxed and overburdened in their work – they may be too tired, too busy, and maybe even too cynical to contribute fully. If team members don’t feel psychologically safe, they likely won’t disagree with each other, or explore alternatives, or even question each other. All that diversity – identity and cognitive – is gathered at the table and then wasted.
Having psychological safety will help teams be united in their goals, even as they use their differences to reach those goals. Page acknowledges this, saying that “team members must appreciate, encourage, and engage their differences. They cannot check their identities at the door. They must bring their whole selves–their identities, their experiences, their education and training–to achieve [diversity] bonuses.” (221)
So: teams that have high cognitive diversity and high psychological safety solve problems better and faster than teams that are missing either dimension. An article in the Harvard Business Review called “The Two Traits of the Best Problem-Solving Teams” introduces some of the research leading to this claim. In that study, psychological safety enabled teams to be curious and encouraging with each other, and also to be forceful and experimental. Diverse teams low in psychological safety were combative; psychologically safe teams low in cognitive diversity defaulted to group-think.
And that is why, in the post on storytelling, I advocated that you take time to build trust and good working relationships at two different junctures in your predictive scenario work: first when you convene your diverse teams, and second when you ask them to be publicly vulnerable and write their stories. If you want the storytelling to produce rich variance in ideas, you have to spend the time to set up your storytelling teams for success.
Now, I recognize that you may not be ready to jump into writing stories about potential futures – although I truly do hope you’ll consider it as you prepare for the start of fall semester with new restrictions and loss of rights affecting your students’ lives – but even if you’re not quite ready for that, you can still start building psychological safety now, and start working your way toward creating diversity bonuses by unleashing the power of cognitive diversity on your campus. So I’m going to pivot to talk a bit about how you can use Page’s work on cognitive diversity in your ongoing leadership practice and either start to build, or strengthen, your team’s sense of psychological safety.
I’ll talk about this even more in a few weeks, when I share more about the content of The Leadership Academy – especially the second module, “Getting Clear With Others,” which is all about using *your* values in your leadership practice to create trusting, effective teams who find joy in their work and in working together.
The idea that a team with real diversity bonuses has both cognitive diversity and psychological safety relies on a pretty magical combination of curiosity and relentlessness. And I want to support you in your leadership practice by sharing a few things you can do – a few behaviors you can model and encourage your team to take up – to help create that magic so that your team can harness the power of their cognitive diversity.
These three tips are suggestions for habits you can build into your leadership practice over time. AND they’re strategies you can use in the moment if you find yourself convening a team of people who don’t know each other well and you want to quickly build a sense of psychological safety.
Do this deliberately and explicitly. You can do simple things like make a point and then say something like “I know there are probably other ways to look at this. What am I missing?” Or you can try something more subtle and indirect, like couching your idea as crazy or out there, as a way of inviting people to engage with it. Try an opener like “I don’t know even what *I* think about what I’m going to say, but what if…?” This literally invites people to disagree with you, and the invitation makes the disagreement safer for the other person to offer up.
By broadening your information-gathering and showing genuine interest in everything you learn, you’ll do two really important things. First, you’ll expand your own knowledge, awareness, and perspectives. You’ll essentially be increasing your individual ability to think like a diverse team, because you’ll have more frameworks and possibilities living in your head. The second is that you model seeking and being attentive to a range of ideas, which helps others believe that it’s safe and beneficial to do so. It’s a win-win: you help yourself by helping your team.
I have worked at several institutions where leaders open meetings with something meant to prompt introspection: sometimes a prayer, sometimes a poem, sometimes a longer passage from a text. I’ve noticed one thing consistently in this practice almost everywhere I see it enacted: the opening is offered up to set the tone, and then the meeting goes on as if that tone were not set. This drives me crazy, not only because I often yearn to engage with whatever was just shared, but also because it literally demonstrates that what is said Does. Not. Matter. Once you show me that words don’t matter, my willingness to engage and offer my own ideas declines rapidly. I imagine I’m not the only person who feels this way.
That’s why mindful listening is such a powerful practice: it not only gives you better insight into what’s being said, it shows people you value their words. Once they know their words matter, their thinking and working relationships can be supercharged.
When you listen mindfully, you are attuned to your body and its responses to what you’re hearing. You are attuned to your emotional responses to what someone is saying. You’re focusing on the meaning and intent of their words. You’re primed to learn even more – not to move on quickly to the next topic, not to interject your own ideas, but to slow down and dig even deeper into what someone is saying.
All of that energy can lead to strong communication and increased understanding, but only if you *act*: only if you take the time to explore what you hear. Once you make a habit of demonstrating that you’re listening carefully and that you care enough to follow up on what you hear, people will see that their voices matter.
Mindful listening and then slowing down to explore what you heard is a great way to help a new team establish a strong foundation. People have the experience that their own contributions matter, and they practice engaging with others’ ideas.
In your ongoing leadership practice, your regular practice of mindful listening and active engagement with others’ ideas has similar effects as seeking alternative ideas: it will broaden your internal repertoire, *and* it will model the same behavior for your team. For both your team-building activities in the moment and your ongoing work with your team, try to find ways to be explicit about your behavior so that people know what you’re doing and why, and hear you encourage them to adopt the practice in their own work.
A sponsor is someone who advocates for your advancement. Sponsorship goes beyond mentorship, which is more about support, encouragement, and guidance. If you are someone’s sponsor you are promoting their work in every relevant situation, especially when that person is not in the room. At work, women especially benefit from having sponsors, as the default is for men to be considered for promotions and leadership roles, so it’s especially crucial you sponsor the women on your team.
Sponsorship is a key component of psychological safety because your active sponsorship demonstrates to your team that you value them and are fighting for them. In turn, they know that their gifts and talents are visible not only to you but to those you work with. They know that when they’re not in the room, you’ve got their back. They know they can trust you to look out for them *and* to celebrate their awesomeness.
You can use this premise in your team-building activities by referencing people’s ideas, using their name when referring to their ideas, and highlighting what’s particularly valuable or salient. It’s like facilitating a conversation in a classroom, where you want all the students to contribute to an atmosphere charged with energy and ideas. This will take focus and effort on your part, as you note who has said what, help tie ideas together, encourage the team to dig deeper into questions, and so on. But it models the exact kind of dynamic you want for your diverse team: everybody is recognized, everybody matters, everybody feels valued.
In your ongoing leadership practice, you can practice sponsorship both in team environments and in other meetings where your team isn’t present but their work and ideas deserve recognition and representation. Being a sponsor in both of those kinds of settings ensures that your team’s talents are seen, and deepens their trust in you.
To wrap up, I want to tie together the value of psychological safety and the importance for you as a leader to nurture it through seeking alternatives, listening mindfully, and sponsoring your team. I’ll share a final quote from Page’s book The Diversity Bonus:
“Teams [outperform individuals] because they can draw from larger cognitive reperatories. A team possesses more information, more ideas, more knowledge, and more ways of thinking than a single person. A team can access more perspectives and more tools. This abundance of cognitive tools allows them to produce more ideas and to find improvements in the ideas they encounter. It allows them to partition reality more finely and avoid blind spots. This abundance depends on the team consisting of individually accomplished individuals who are collectively diverse.” (163)
This isn’t pie-in-the-sky dreaming. Nor is it an elision of identity diversity. To the contrary. If you use your leadership to create psychological safety that allows everyone on your team to walk into a room with their full identity in tact, knowing they will be seen, valued, and heard for who they are, everything they’ve experienced, and their ability to think differently from others, you can enhance your entire campus’s conversations about diversity. And you can start small. Focus on your team. Help them access the full richness of their intellectual abundance through your intentional leadership practice.
The Triple Burden: Black Women Leaders in Predominantly White Institutions of Higher Education. A dissertation by Nadia Mitchell, 2021.
“Teams Solve Problems Faster When They’re More Cognitively Diverse” by Alison Reynolds & David Lewis, @HBR.
“Four Steps to Boost Psychological Safety at Your Workplace” by Amy C. Edmondson and Per Hugander, @HBR.
“Psychological Safety and the Critical Role of Leadership Development,” @McKinsey & Company.
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