Diversity Training: Consider it Leadership Development for the ‘Leader in You’
Overhead: “Ugh, are you kidding me? We are being forced to sit through another diversity training session at work! I hate this…what a waste of time! Doesn’t the company have something better they can spend their money on? Why do I have to change my values just to make people around me happy?”
As a diversity awareness trainer, I’ve heard this many times and I bet many of you have too. And yes, I anticipate people to walk into my training sessions with this notion. Believe me when I say this…”I understand”. However, allow me to share something with you that I have learned over the years. Please consider opening your mind (and heart) while I explain…..
Do you ever want to be a leader in your organization? Do you have the desire to take on a department manager position, be the Director of Marketing, line supervisor, or move into a senior management position? If so, how will you do that? Do you think you can be a “leader” without “followers”? If nobody is following you, are you really a leader or do you simply have a title for the time being?
I encourage people to be a little selfish when it comes to diversity training. What do I mean by selfish? I mean, this is your time to “gather intelligence” that will help you be a true leader in the multicultural workforce today. Leaders need to be able to “start the conversation” and see it through. Open up to the fact that this type of training is really “leadership development”. Many companies today actually tell their employees: “Oh, we don’t talk about THAT here…that’s too controversial.” “That”…meaning subjects of race, religion, politics, etc. Leaders don’t squash the conversation…they start it.
In your workplace, does everyone look like you, have your beliefs, and in the same socioeconomic group? If not, then how will you create “followership” from people dissimilar to you? You do this by engaging in conversations, asking questions, and being tolerant. Notice, I didn’t say that you need to “accept” other people’s differences. That isn’t logical.
The ability to value diversity, consider different perspectives, and to be open to new ideas in the workplace are not only valuable leadership tools, but they are necessary for everyone in today’s unique workforce. Use diversity training as means to “check yourself”, learn about legal concerns, how to identify diversity matters at work, and how to possibly deter unnecessary conflict due to diversity and equal opportunity matters.
As a leader, creating a strong followership means not only leading “what you know”….but, leading what you don’t know. Start the conversation….leaders are constantly gathering intelligence. Be selfish, and use diversity training as means of building your personal leadership inventory of skills.
About Dr. Kitty Brandal
Dr. Kitty Brandal is an experienced independent trainer who has been training and teaching for over 20 years. She currently serves as a part-time instructor for college-level business courses and is the President of Corporate Compass Training and Development.
She has designed curriculum and taught various topics while serving in the U.S. Navy, working in higher education, and the corporate sector. Dr. Brandal earned a doctorate degree in Organizational Management and Leadership and is a Certified Stress Management Coach, Emotional Intelligence Coach, and Reiki Master.
Dr. Brandal offers a variety of leadership development programs, to include: Diversity, Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace, Creativity and Innovation in the Workplace, First Time Supervisor Workshop, Communication, Dealing with Difficult People/Conflict and many others.
She is also an award winning speaker with Toastmasters International and is a member of the Professional Speakers Guild.