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What if… leaders bring in diverse perspectives?

The words kindness is a superpower spray painted onto a brick wall

In this month’s blog, guest writer James Gadsby Peet shares some steps that kind leaders can take to build trust in their teams and ensure diverse perspectives are included and valued.

Great leaders are able to:

  • Get good decisions made
  • Develop trust between different people
  • Help individuals grow however they are able

All of these actions rely on being able to build trust between individuals. This is not limited to people higher up in a hierarchy – leaders of teams come from every “level”.

Trust, empathy and respect are built on understanding. To generate understanding, leaders ask questions and truly listen to a person’s perspective. They don’t assume you know others’ experience and are genuinely curious about their point of view. They are generous with their time and approach a conversation as an exploration of views rather than a chance to persuade.

Leaders are kind with these discussions, building their understanding of a wide range of people – their main role in creating an effective team.

A triangle made up of brightly coloured strips, each strip with a different word written on it. From the bottom up the words are Understanding, Empathy, Respect and Trust
Trust is built on respect, empathy and understanding

Here are three ways they take this and help their teams become more effective:

1. Bring diverse groups of people together to solve problems

Groups of people that truly collaborate, create something they didn’t expect in the first place. New ideas are shared and built upon by everyone in the group to achieve this.

A blue square on the left of the image and a yellow square on the right of the image, each has an arrow pointing upwards that meet at the same central position
Real collaboration isn’t asking people to come with you — it’s ending up somewhere neither of you were expecting

IMAGE Real collaboration isn’t asking people to come with you — it’s ending up somewhere neither of you were expecting

These teams have trust and safety between individuals, which allow them to suggest something different. These ideas don’t have to be staggeringly innovative, they just have to take a conversation down a different path.

Kind leaders demonstrate that it’s ok to bring your full self to any conversation – and work hard not to discount ideas no matter where they come from. This is done through countless interactions – both in private and more public settings.

However, kind leaders are particularly aware of the risk and reward in group conversations. They make sure to proactively seek input from everyone – either by talking up or through other inputs like whiteboards, email or chat. They are especially kind with the more divergent views when they are brought up – realising the fragile value they hold.

Kind leaders spend time prepping all different voices for these conversations. This can be as simple as a quick message beforehand to encourage someone about the value of their contribution or months of personal development work to help them do so.

The aim is to create a culture that values different points of view, rather than only those of people with established or perceived ‘expertise’ in a subject.

2. Use consent based decision making to collaborate at scale

A practical process that leaders can put in place to enable a wide range of views to contribute to a decision is focussing on consent rather than agreement. The underlying process relies on asking if anyone has a critical concern about moving forward, rather than aiming for everyone to agree.

Kind leaders use this to explore the overlap of tolerances in their team, rather than working to full agreement. The process makes it much easier to move forward, whilst involving everyone.

It still relies on having trust between people to enable them to share their full thoughts – but works to reduce the bar at which people feel safe to do so.

Read more about this consent-based technique.

3. Run people centred team sessions

One of the reasons organisations are worried about allowing more flexibility in their teams, is because of the loss of culture or collaboration. This is no doubt a huge risk – however it’s a risk whether you’re in an office regularly or not.

The issue is that we have well established patterns for dealing with this risk if people are in the same 3D space most of the time. These might take the form of stand ups, team days or all hands meetings. The aim is to try and get people to understand more about one another and their organisation.

(The irony is that these actually don’t work for a huge swath of people with introverted tendencies, but generally not those that end up in leadership positions who are usually more extroverted.)

Kind leaders are working on how to build this same emotional understanding between people when they’re not in the same room together. They are establishing patterns and sessions such as:

  • Mental Health apps like which get people to share and discuss their emotions
  • Team check ins where the whole group runs round talking about how they’re feeling rather than what they’re doing
  • Regular Appreciative interviews which pair people up to hear about what they proud of at work or outside of it
  • Cultural touch points talking about what music, literature, film or TV people are watching and what they’re getting from it

All of these activities will help to build understanding between people far beyond the day to day of work. By making them varied in what they ask people to share, kind leaders are ensuring they’re accessible for all.

James Gadsby Peet is Director of Digital at William Joseph, a digital agency & B Corp that creates accessible products, services and brands which reduce inequality.

Kindness is a superpower image: Photo by Andrew Thornebrooke on Unsplash

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