not in similarities.”

This month, we continue our conversation on Leading at the Speed of Business by discussing the third of five keys to success. We began the discussion two months ago with the first key to success: Get Ready to Warp. Last month, we centered the conversation on the second key to success: Servant Leadership. This month, we dive into Cognitive Diversity as the third key to success. Successfully leading at the speed of business is rooted in diverse thinking. People who think different, will ultimately do different and will be more comfortable with change and adapting at the speed of business!

What does Cognitive Diversity entail and what do leaders need to know to leverage the strengths that Stephen Covey alludes to in the title to achieve effective and successful leadership?

  • Key in on Psychographics vs. Demographics – Most of us are familiar with demographics that look at population groups based on age, income, race, religion and zip codes to name but a few. But just because a group looks different, doesn’t mean they think different. Psychographics look at the population through the lens of attitudes, aspirations and other psychological criteria. This information provides leaders the ability to act on how people think with the understanding that how people think ultimately drives how people act!
  • Embrace Creativity – Much has been written about the role of innovation in adapting at the speed of business. However, innovation doesn’t just happen because leaders want it to. What gets less press is the role of creativity in the innovation process. Where innovation is doing differently, creativity is thinking differently and is the foundation for innovation. Creative people are constantly challenging the norm through “What if” or “Why not” responses. Creative people might also be characterized as curious and even artistic, but always in the context of achieving desired results for the organization!
  • Understanding What We Think, We Do – Leading at the speed of business means adapting faster than the competition in a way that achieves desired results. When leaders need different results, their teams and organizations must act different lest things fall prey to the definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over expecting different results!). We know that external efforts to change behavior, rewards and/or fear, have temporary impact over time. The only way a leader and their team can act different is to think different about what they do, why they do it and how they do what they do. Re-framing how the organization’s leaders think about the competition, can open new avenues of thought and adapting to a constantly changing business environment!

Effective adaptability is a mindset before it becomes a behavior. Leading at the speed of business requires a constant look at adaptability to stay relevant beyond the drifts in markets and competition. Leaders, and the teams they lead, must all embrace an attitude of change and adaptability in order to take the right actions for sustainable success. In the words of Mary Engelbreit, “If you don’t like something, change it; If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

How are you finding strengths in differences on your team?

Lead Well!