Inclusive Leadership

By Bryon Knoth

In high school, I knew that I wanted to get into something “mechanical”, so engineering became a good fit. I started my career working offshore and had the fortunate experience of travelling to over 40 countries for almost 14 years. Gaining this cultural awareness has helped me to build a foundational knowledge of inclusive leadership and solidified my belief that diversity allows for different perspectives … and different perspectives provides a variety of solutions to complex problem solving.

Engineering is oftentimes very technical, and engineers think things through in a logical way. Therefore, it is only logical that when you have the same type of people trying to solve a problem you get the same solution. When you have people of different backgrounds working collaboratively together, people will think outside of the box. Different people will troubleshoot problems differently – that’s a fact.

Everyone should step up to the plate, be courageous, and promote inclusion & diversity. One of the most dangerous things in the construction world is complacency. People establish dangerous “norms” and reason it away with, “well, we’ve always done it this way”. There is a norm and comfort with a certain type of person in a certain type of work environment. This is inherently dangerous. What you get in efficiency, you sacrifice diversity of thought, but also safety. You will not have people identify inherent dangers of complacency when you have group think. A diverse team is more likely to call out these issues than a homogenous team that “has always done it this way”.

An inclusive leader needs to be cognizant and understand the needs of their diverse workforce. My favorite strategy is to create an environment where employees who are drastically different from each other work together on special projects. I often pair younger / new employees with my more experienced workforce. Pairing them together has led to a better working environment and inclusive learning opportunities … unease quickly turns into cohesiveness. They each learn new skills from the other, and everyone is better off in the long run. This mini-series in mentoring / reverse mentoring has truly helped to create an inclusive culture on my team.

Finally, inclusive leaders need to show commitment to I&D and remain curious for more knowledge and understanding. As an engineer, I can show you how being an inclusive leader will affect your metrics. I could provide the data and the spreadsheets. But, without leaders wanting to change and then committing to doing so, the dial will never move.

Please join me in being an inclusive leader at National Grid.

 

The Six Traits of Inclusive Leadership – Cultural Intelligence, Collaboration, Corageous, Cognizance, Commitment, and Curiosity.

To learn more please see Deloitte’s article here

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