Not everything in boosting diversity is about the behaviour of the leader. All of us, especially if we are part of a minority group, should take responsibility in promoting it. What can we do?
To make an impact, confidence is critical.
There are many things that can diminish the confidence in our contribution, such lack of sponsors, negative stereotypes or conflicting cultural norms. And yet, if we are committed with our development, the question is how we could help tear these barriers down. Because cultural changes are not only coming from the top. It’s more like a quiet tide we all should feed.
Talking about the working environment, we consider three different confidences: technical, relational and influential.
Technical confidence is about knowing you can deliver good performance, or that you can acquire (or improve) the skills you need to do a good job. Relational confidence is about your capacity to build networks and develop people’s trust. Influential confidence talks about your ability to influence situations, leverage relationships and gain respect of others.
Sometimes, and due to the afore mentioned barriers and many others, we can find difficult nurturing our confidence to overcome the obstacles.
Not all the same
Each of these types of confidences don’t weight the same in time. At the first stages of contribution, technical confidence is key. Let’s say it is the ground floor for growing. Understanding what our strengths are and how we can improve or gain the skills we need is the seed to feed our self-awareness, and thus our self-confidence.
As long as we want to make bigger contributions, we can improve our impact through relationships and influence. That’s why these two types of confidence become more important with time.
Making the transition from doing all to contribute through others needs necessarily we work on our relationships by developing people’s trust and building our networks. What about your stakeholders? And your mentors? Who can provide you with real feedback about your impact? Who can sponsor you?
Fight against prejudices
In tearing barriers down, we need to fight against prejudices. Adam Grant, in his book Think again, talks about how we can diminish prejudices by destabilizing stereotypes. He relates a story about a black man challenging a KKK member with a simple question: “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?”.
Truth is, we need to be bold to face this kind of situations and challenge our interlocutor or simply ask for what we want. But it’s also true that if we want things to change, we need to take some risks. Taking responsibility always involves some of them.
Growing relationships and influence require good communication skills and time. It’s not only important for leaders but for anyone. But above all, it’s key in promoting diversity. We cannot appreciate something we don’t know. Thus, be open about what you can do, how you can contribute and what you want. And take the time to let others know.
Diverse talent is more needed than never. Show yours!