As we dive deeper into the topic of diversity and inclusion, a sad situation becomes apparent. Companies become fixated on the fact that they have to hire women to get in line with the times, but treat it as just that: hiring a woman rather than hiring an individual who happens to be a woman. As such, they might not be hiring the right person/woman for the job. What happens then? High turnover, negative impacts on the bottom line and employee morale to name a few things.
Currently, less than 5% of executive positions are held by women, and this number is an improvement over recent years. Also, when it comes to leadership, it’s about more than having an educated, skilled leader in place. In recent years, large companies like General Electric, HP, and Apple have been prime examples of talented individuals who fail in their leadership role. What causes this turnover, and why is it so important to keep these things in mind as we create a societal change by striving for diversity on the executive level?
Values and Motivators
The main reason that successful leaders fail in a specific leadership role is a misalignment of values or motivators. In a nutshell, they’re not in congruence with the company they work for and clash with the organizational culture; they just don’t fit.
Sometimes a leader is driven by their own agenda. In many cases, this aligns with the agenda of the business and the leader and business can grow in tandem. In other scenarios, the two are not aligned, and catastrophe occurs. Sometimes, the style of their leadership doesn’t fit the overall culture of the company.
In the Law of Inertia, a body in motion wants to stay in motion while a body at rest wants to stay at rest. The same applies to organizational culture. A new leader can’t just come aboard and try a different approach to leadership without facing some resistance. Proper change management needs to be put in place. While the new leader is already moving forward, the rest of the organization is still at rest.
Perhaps most importantly, their values might not align. Our values dictate how well we fit into any organization we work for. Generally speaking, people are a lot more happy and productive working in businesses that share their values. If a new person in an executive role has different values, they might not last long before moving on.
Misaligned values result in projecting our values onto those around us through unconscious bias. Our unconscious biases develop into our own set of rules that dictate what behaviors get rewarded, which get punished, our conflict resolution skills, who gets promoted, and who gets let go. An employee who brought a lot to the company may struggle under new leadership, due to unconscious biases.
So, How Do We Fix It?
The best way to prevent incongruence and misalignment between a leader and the role is to be proactive. “We need a woman in leadership” does not mean “any woman will do” any more than hiring a random man off the street would be beneficial. That’s why it is essential to assess more than skills and experience and look instead at potential, values, motivators, and goals during the selection process.
To know what type of person to hire, you need to take a step back and do an in-depth analysis of your business’s organizational culture. What are the values of the business? What does the business need to continue growing? What needs to happen to truly trigger social change, rather than just filling an arbitrary quota.
The tech industry has made incredible strides toward improving diversity and inclusion in recent years. Businesses have assessed what roles they need to fill and have worked to find the right women to fill them. By having the right women in these engineering and developer roles, the future of how we use automobiles, computers, home assistants, video games, and phones could all change. All by taking the time to ensure the right woman is in the right role.
Taking Steps to Initiate Change
While we focus on women during these conversations, finding the right man for the job is just as important when it comes to recruiting. Right person, right job, right tasks-- that’s my motto.
To start making these changes and ensure that you are finding the right woman rather than any woman to fit the diversity and inclusion bill, don’t hesitate to reach out for a professional consultation. You are a body in motion which has gotten used to doing the same thing for an extended period of time. At the same time, it may seem like the world is moving in a different direction at a rapid rate as our society goes through a paradigm shift in its approach to diversity and inclusion. If you’re out of sync, we can help. It’s all about changing your inertia.
For more information on finding the right person for the right job in Executive search, contact Meredith Wailes at N2Growth.