Leadership within an organization can be a valuable asset or a liability for employees, with good leaders creating better efficiency and helping to obtain organizational goals. A recent Gallup Poll shows that there is an increasing number of adults in the United States that openly identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgendered (LGBT). The members of this community are not as equally represented in leadership within business organizations, a problem that can and should be rectified.
Leadership Role Models Needed
The importance of having role models in the workplace cannot be overstated. Although not all members of the LGBT community are open about their sexuality, those that are forthcoming often have an important function as a role model. Role models allow members of a workforce to identify with a company on a deeper level and help workers visualize themselves in leadership positions, which motivates them to try to achieve the same success. Having a role model as a member of an often-marginalized group demonstrates a company’s acceptance and commitment to diversity.
Role models also go beyond that of just the company’s top leaders. There should be adequate diverse representation at every level of leadership with an organization so that the leaders are not just functioning as that of a figurehead. While figureheads are important, most employees do not look to only upper-level managers to guide them. The needs of the organization are more efficiently met when more diverse working groups are formed.
Having visible members of the LGBT community as part of an organization’s leadership goes far beyond just having the “appearance” of diversity. Organizations that embrace diverse thinking realize that the best teams are composed of people from many different backgrounds; including cultural and educational background — because a person’s unique life experience and education offers a different understanding of problems, which leads to more options and solutions. These solutions and ways of approaching problems often result in higher profits.
Many leaders who are also members of the LGBT community embrace authenticity in their teams. An employee that feels that they can be authentic and accepted in their workplace is less likely to become a demotivated worker. Demotivation in employees is rarely reversed once it occurs and is one of the leading causes of high turnover rates in organizations. For those employees that do stay in a demotivated situation, they are far less likely to be productive and drain organizational resources.
Open to Input
A team that is openly accepting of all employees will find that creating a workplace culture that offers LGBT represented leadership at every level also increases the amount of input they receive from employees. A workplace that openly accepts diversity among its leaders will also see that it is creating a safe environment, which allows voices to be heard. When employees feel valued they are open to communication with leaders, especially if they feel that the leadership is open to hearing their perspective. Representation within that leadership should be based on creating the most effective team possible by demonstrating that they are looking for all perspectives.
Management and leadership go beyond creating a checklist of tasks for employees to do. Leadership should be based upon who can get the job done, and who can bolster employee morale and create a motivating environment while doing it, and should not be exclusive to any group. Opening up an organization’s leadership to include all people, including the visible LGBT community is a step in the right direction to achieving those goals of a safe, welcoming working environment and a more profitable organization.