Diverse Leadership is Good Business

Kayleigh is a college sophomore and marketing intern at Momentum.

Growing up, my dad always quoted Timothy J. Keller:

“When you listen to one thinker, you become a clone… two thinkers, you become confused… ten thinkers, and you’ll begin developing your own voice… When you listen to two or three hundred thinkers, you become wise.”

As I navigate my college years, I reflect on this quote often as my beliefs and values are questioned, stretched, and morphed. It pushes me to embrace diversity in order to find middle ground.


Embracing diversity is valuable in the business world too. An analysis by McKinsey & Company shows that gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform competitors, while ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform competitors. Of course, diversity does not automatically translate into profit, but diverse leadership signals successful characteristics within a company.[1] Diverse leadership leads to greater wisdom at the top. It’s good for business.

Compiling a team of like-minded individuals often results in a situation termed “groupthink.” Business Dictionary defines groupthink as the “tendency of the members of a group to yield to the desire for consensus or unanimity at the cost of considering alternative courses of action. Groupthink is said to be the reason why “intelligent and knowledgeable people make disastrous decisions.”[2]

Characteristics of groupthink include:

·         Lack of real debate or difference of opinions

·         Striving for consensus or conformity

·         Disregard of dissenting opinion

·         Finding quick solutions to complex problems [3]

A company cannot satisfy the broad needs of their market without internally representing a variety of people, thoughts, actions, and beliefs.

Companies need to diversify executive teams in order to maximize innovation and combat groupthink.  McKinsey & Company offered suggestions for closing the gender gap through persistence, CEO commitment, and comprehensive transformation programs. You can read more about McKinsey & Company’s analysis and tips for improving gender inequality here.


Wisdom is learning how to decipher a variety of thoughts and opinions in order to obtain maximum knowledge and efficiency. Diversity is not something to shy away from. Diversity is something to embrace for its harmony as well as its dissonance, because it is a part of this world, a part of this life. We are all shaped by different backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences. Next time you form a project team or fill a vacancy, consider candidates who bring a diverse point of view. By truly listening to them and considering their perspective, you will add greater value inside and outside of the workplace.

Learn more about diversity in leadership at Momentum’s March breakfast: “Leading Together: Men, Women and Leadership. 

[1] Vivian Hunt, Dennis Layton, and Sara Prince, “Why diversity matters.” McKinsey & Company. Jan 2015. http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/why-diversity-matters.
[2] http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/group-think.html
[3] Dinkel, Ann Marie, “Avoiding Groupthink and the Other Bad Behaviors.” ALN. 30 Apr 2013. https://www.alnmag.com/article/2013/04/avoiding-groupthink-and-other-bad-behaviors.

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