Winning Hearts & Minds: The Battle for Diversity & Inclusion Needs Authentic Leadership (Here’s Where to Start)

Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, KPMG’s national managing partner for corporate responsibility, diversity and inclusion

As a diversity and inclusion executive, I’ve watched many initiatives waver, stall, or at worse, completely fail. What brings about these downfalls isn’t strategy – the ideas are usually sound. The missing ingredient is visible, Authentic Leadership.

Today, we operate in a truly global world. Fortunately, the various value propositions for advancing diversity and inclusion are becoming increasingly clear. Corporate C-Suites, NGOs, Governments, Boards, and Educational Institutions desire more innovation, appreciate the need to drive talent sustainability, or simply see the value of diverse perspectives in problem solving. Additionally, we see the linkage between good governance and diversity, and between risk management and inclusion. Lastly, there is increasing research that demonstrates the positive correlation between diversity and inclusion and performance.

So why aren’t more strong initiatives moving forward? It’s because we’ve not yet won the hearts and minds of many stakeholders. To accelerate change, we need to move beyond grasping the value propositions, articulating the strategy, creating goals and metrics, defining specific accountabilities, or developing corporate slogans or vision statements.. Though dialogue and efforts have increased and we are beginning to see progress, we will only be able to move faster through Authentic Leadership.

Authentic Leadership can be defined in many ways, but essentially it is a genuine approach to leadership that connects actions to core values and personal convictions. Leaders who do not truly and deeply believe in the mission of the initiative they are driving will never guide the organization to full success. Leaders at all levels must genuinely demonstrate, on a very personal level why as an individual, they personally believe diversity to be important.

One Leader’s Story
Fortunately, I have seen the impact that this type of leadership can have on an organization. One example that comes to mind is that of a specific white male CEO who spoke of his commitment to diversity, his expectations of inclusion and even his establishment of bold goals for the organization. But to the organization it appeared to be rhetoric, another goal amongst many.

To fully win the hearts and minds of individuals within the organization, the CEO shared a personal story that illustrated his own commitment to diversity and inclusion.

The story was simple. He shared how he was the youngest child and the only boy in a large family. He spoke of being aware of the differences in treatment between himself and his sisters. He shared specific facts of the inequities he witnessed when his extremely capable older sisters entered the workforce.

The CEO’s story became the catalyst for accelerating change within the organization, particularly with respect to the advancement of women.

Individually we are all different, but collectively our impact can be dynamic. You can apply the principles of Authentic Leadership storytelling to your own diversity and inclusion work through the following quick tips:

  1. Tell a genuine story about how you have personally been impacted by diversity in your own voice. Do not read from a script.
  2. Be sure you are deeply involved in the story and not recalling observations from a distance.
  3. Reveal some of the personal challenges encountered during your diversity journey.
  4. Ask for reactions or questions.
  5. Share your story often and with various levels and audiences including external constituents.
  6. Be engaged beyond the moment. 

Kathy Hopinkah Hannan is KPMG’s national managing partner for corporate responsibility, diversity and inclusion. She is also a doctoralstudent in values-driven leadership at Benedictine University. 

Are You an Inverted Leader? The Case for Making Sure the Leader is Not the Expert

A leader isn't good because they're right; they're good because they're willing to learn and to trust.  ~Brigadier General Stanley McChrystal

Last week I began facilitating two new cohorts in a 12-month leadership development program.  As one of several ways to introduce the concept of leadership to these emerging leaders I used a TED Talk by Stanley McChrystal, a former 4-star Army General.  In his less than 20-minute presentation, he hits a number of key leadership behaviors.  But he also introduces an idea that I think will only become more common—inversion of expertise.

In the not so distant past it was typical for individuals in an organization to be promoted up through the ranks because of their increased level of expertise, and it was usually technical expertise of some form. It was assumed that the more technical expertise someone could offer the organization that they could also lead.  Maybe that assumption held true more frequently in the industrial age, but in today's organizations that could be a recipe for failure.

John Kotter (Professor of Leadership, Emeritus at Harvard Business School) defines leadership as "taking an organization into the future, finding opportunities that are coming at it faster and faster and successfully exploiting those opportunities.  Leadership is about vision, about people buying in, about empowerment and, most of all, about providing useful change.  Leadership is about behavior."  Using Kotter's definition of leadership, there is very little technical expertise required.

Getting back to McChrystal's TED Talk, he said, "So how does a leader stay credible and legitimate when they haven't done what the people you're leading are doing?  It's a brand new leadership challenge.  It forced me to become a lot more transparent, a lot more willing to listen, a lot more willing to be reverse-mentored from below." 
I can think of several individuals who served on an organization's board of directors and became the CEO.  Even though they had been on the organization's board, they weren't on the board for their content expertise but for their leadership within the community and/or constituency base.  One example that particularly intrigued me was Mark Murray, who went from university president to leading a big box retailer with nearly 200 store locations.  Murray had served on the retailer's board of directors for a couple of years and Murray's leadership capabilities were evident to the corporate leaders.  Without one bit of retail experience, he took on the challenge and for more than seven years led the organization well. 

This type of leadership, that now includes inversion of expertise, requires behaviors that haven't always been thought of as leader-like.  Behaviors like being transparent, really listening, and a willingness to be reverse-mentored from below are somewhat new to the list for great leadership.  The leader is not the expert.  The leader is the one channeling the expertise to address opportunities that are coming at the organization faster and faster. -----------------------------------------------------------
Dr. Kathryn Scanland is the president of Greystone Global LLC, a consulting firm focusing on strategic planning, leadership development and organizational design. This post is republished with permission from Tuesday Mornings.

Do You Have the Emotional Intelligence for the Job? How EQ Gets You Hired, and Gets the Job Done

Ignoring the EQ factor of leadership is like settling
for shadows instead of reality. Photo credit
As an operations professional, Charlie (name changed) began his job search with a single organization in mind: a Fortune Best Places to Work company with a sterling reputation for hiring exceptional leaders. He polished his resume to make sure his vast experience was evident; in interviews he stressed his background working in similar roles.

When he got the job offer he was waiting for, Charlie was ecstatic. His future boss, a senior vice president for the organization, explained how they made their decision. They had considered inside candidates, she said, but decided to hire Charlie not just because of his competence, but also because of his emotional intelligence (EQ, for short).

Maybe the Answer is for Men to Lean Out

Lean In: Are Intelligent Working Women Leaning Back?
See the full version
of this graphic below. 
As a working mom, I rarely pick up my ringing phone without a sense of trepidation. Will it be my son's school, calling once again to say he is sick and in need of a midday pick up before he infects the rest of his kindergarten class?

My husband and I have grown adept at making emergency plans via text message while both in meetings. And while we share the childcare needs equally, the call from the school always comes to my phone.

A new infographic from asks, Why are Intelligent Women Leaning Back? The question is a clear reference to the uber-popular book, Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg. The graphic, see below for the full version, contains statistics that show women with MBAs are more likely to work part-time. This holds especially true for women holding MBAs from elite programs. Married MBA moms with bachelor degrees from top tier universities are 30 percent less likely to work full-time than their "non-elite" counterparts.

Why are intelligent women leaning back? Maybe because their equally intelligent male partners are leaning in. As we rally around Sandberg's call for more female leadership, for a final push to achieve equality so "in the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders," maybe we need to establish more opportunities for men to lean out.

According to the Census Bureau, 3.5 percent of stay at home parents are fathers. In an interview with NPR, Stephanie Coontz, of the Council on Contemporary Families, said this number vastly under-reports the many part-time at-home fathers who do some work yet are their children's primary caregivers. In an unscientific review of my own childhood, I can think of no friends who would have said their father was their primary caregiver. But thinking through my children's friends, there a handful of fathers who work part-time, or not at all, in order to provide at-home care for their children.

In my own case, my husband's willingness to lean out a little - to rearrange his schedule to cover a sick day, or to take time away from work to call prospective day care programs - makes it more possible for me to lean in. And this year, when I fill out the school's emergency contact information, I may list his name and number first. These systems don't change without our effort. I'm leaning into that.

Lean In: Are Intelligent Working Women Leaning Back?
Courtesy of:

Amber Johnson is a wife and mother of two, and the CVDL's corporate relations advisor. She writes about work-life alignment, and other non-business topics, on her blog,