Embracing diversity: leadership perspective

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jasmin Silence
  • 350th Air Refueling Squadron
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. — Diversity, according to Webster’s Dictionary, means, “the condition of having or being composed of differing elements, especially the inclusion of different types of people in a group or organization.”

How can we embrace diversity as leaders? The first step of course is to consider your surroundings. What is your group composed of? Do you have a majority of one group and just a few minorities, or is your group an even mix of multiple minorities? Are most single or do most have families? How do you meet the demands and needs of everyone in your group?

The second step is to get to know your Airmen. You will find that whatever you thought your Airmen needed, might not be the case.

The third step is to put your words into action. If all of your leadership represents one particular group, yet your Airmen are a mix of different groups, it might be difficult for them to imagine the path to get to a leadership position.

This is where the fine art of leadership comes in. You need to hire the best person for the job, but consider broadening your search. Bringing the right person to your team might have a lot longer lasting effects on your organization that will benefit the organization in the long run.

Additionally, as a leader, try to find professional military education and other opportunities that do not fill the same mold as other ones for your Airmen. Broaden your horizons and encourage those around you to do the same. Be an advocate for those with a quieter voice so they can grow as your fellow Airmen. Listen to what they have to say and what they need. If you focus on the strengths that everyone brings to your team, then you can achieve anything. Use diversity to your advantage so you and your Airmen can soar to new heights.