New book offers tools for effective leadership in diverse organizations

In Leading in a Diverse Environment, Teddie E. Malangwasira, PhD discusses the steps leaders must take to create effective growth in an organization that also values ​​diversity, makes everyone feel included, and seeks to develop people’s unique skills. . Dr. Malangwasira draws on his personal experiences as a leader and as someone who has worked in diverse settings to make his points and provide examples of effective leadership. As an immigrant to the United States from Malawi, you have witnessed first-hand what happens when organizations fail to celebrate diversity, and you have developed beliefs that diversity is more than simply hiring people of different racial or cultural backgrounds. No two people are the same, so even if you have an organization made up of people, who seem to have the same cultural background, they will still have diverse skills and talents; therefore, you must find ways to use those skills to the benefit of your organization, rather than simply hiring people to do jobs that don’t always match your skills. This broad view of diversity makes the book relevant to any organization, no matter who its team members are.

Leading in a Diverse Environment begins with a foreword by Dr. Blanche Wallace, Director of Dynamic Strategic Leadership Coaching and author of The Competent Coaching Leader. Wallace points out the many values ​​in Dr. Malangwasira’s book, including that he advocates developing the skill of self-awareness. Dr. Wallace asserts, “A leader who is not self-aware is operating from an uninformed position. To connect effectively with one’s environment requires awareness, authenticity, and avidity. These characteristics cannot be faked.”

Throughout the book, Dr. Malangwasira focuses not only on the skills leaders need, but also on their own blind spots or weaknesses. As stated in the preface, leaders must “explore the differences between what people think is happening when they lead others and the reality of how people feel when they are led. This paradigm shift will help us to see diversity from the ground up. a different perspective and eliminate the pretense that everything is fine when reality shows otherwise. ” Dr. Malangwasira goes on to say: “We must understand how we differ from other people. However, this understanding is not enough; we must also understand how we can work with other people and take advantage of our differences to build a strong team.” I find these valuable statements as when I became a manager, I was often surprised that other people did not see things the way I did or had different reasons for working. Leaders must embrace all of these diverse characteristics of their team members if they truly want to lead.

Beyond knowing themselves, leaders must also be clear about their objectives and align them with a strategy to achieve them; A big part of that strategy is motivating the various members of your team to adopt those goals as their own. As the motto on the cover of the book says, this is “a journey of working together independently.”

Dr. Malangwasira divides the book into ten chapters that help the reader work towards this goal of using diversity to achieve a shared goal rather than letting it get in the way of achieving the goal. In Chapter 5: Inspiring Others, describes the important steps leaders can take to inspire others. One of the most important, in my opinion, is being approachable. In Chapter 6: Attracting and Retaining Talent, he talks about how “you need to make sure that when you have talented people, those people and their talents are recognized, developed, refined, and leveraged.” It also states that it must develop “an inclusive approach to the talent pool.” He gives examples of a company he worked for, where people were hired for specific positions, but were then expected to work where the company needed them at the time, leading to high turnover and a lack of continuity in their work and the general progress of the company. Dr. Malangwasira concludes: “It seems obvious, but through experience I have learned that I have to say it. People in leadership roles must understand that human beings cannot be placed anywhere the boss wants them to be. Talented employees excel in their roles. Chosen fields. Let them do the jobs they were interviewed for. “

To ensure diversity, Dr. Malangwasira also advocates for the creation of an Individual Development Plan (IDP) for each of his followers. Drawing on the work of Peggy Simonsen in Promoting the culture of development in your organization, she argues that leadership cannot have secret plans to develop the culture of an organization, but that “individuals must be active participants in its development, while leaders they must ensure that they support what was agreed on IDP. ” I think this IDP concept is brilliant because it allows employees to feel included in both their own development and that of the organization.

I will conclude by saying that I appreciate how Dr. Malangwasira writes in easy-to-understand language, breaking down concepts down to their simplest points. This book would be an excellent resource for college students in business and leadership courses because it not only provides the basics of what it takes to be a leader, but it will challenge them to think about what kind of leaders they will be when faced with the challenge. diversity in the world. Workplace. Each chapter ends with a series of questions for the reader; This makes the book not just a reading experience, but a personal development experience; and that is what a book that seeks to educate its readers should always achieve. Once you read this book, I think it will open your eyes to what a diverse environment really is and how you can use diversity effectively to achieve the greatest good for your organization and for everyone involved.

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