Friday, 27 November 2015

NZ's Institute of Director's LinkedIn Group

Felicity Caird, the Exec of New Zealand's Institute of Director's Governance Leadership Centre, posted an interesting article link on LinkedIn this week. Felicity linked to a Washington Post article by Jena McGregor on why, in Jena's opinion, diversity around the board table is progressing at a snail's pace (NB: except in Norway, where board diversity has been legislated to be 40% women, minimum).

The article provided some interesting reading. I felt that the article's author had some credible points. It was not the entire story, but it did make a fair point.

However, it was the response which this post sparked that was more interesting; in large part by male IOD members, who collectively started kicking up bobsey-die, as others posted with statements that undermined the article's veracity, about how 'proper' diversity should only be about talent and skills. Not inconvenient things that challenge the status quo, like gender and race.

From my reading, diversity research seems to often reflect that the majority can't see the problem, whereas the minority sees it clearly (check out Jane Elliot's work on discrimination, or the #covertheathlete campaign).

As I was reading Felicity's IOD thread, I was pondering why I hardly ever make a comment on the IOD posts any more.

I think it is because I have a road block.

Having just participated on an edX MOOC where 13,500 particpants posted weekly, there was a culture of opening up, of support, questioning, interest, and discussion. 

Instead, as posters on the IOD LinkedIn Group, it appears to me that we post our statements of position, and that we don't ask enough questions of each other to test whether a position is sound to us or not. I feel that as a community, the IOD LinkedIn Group is not creating open discussion. In doing that, we that we are short-changing ourselves. We are not conversing more, nor researching more widely, nor attempting greater understanding.

Instead, it feels to me like we shut others down. We 'prove' our point, and promote a fixed mindset: "I know the answer to this, so I will tell them" (Dweck, 2006). The culture on threads quickly becomes hostile: although it is hard to point to the exact words and language where that feeling is perpetrated and normalised.

I feel the IOD members adopt a pack mentality.

And this, for IOD, is a leadership issue. I think that the IOD LinkedIn Group needs a bit of cultural correction and modelling, else no progress is going to be made, and there will be no exploration of what the real issues are.

Leadership fosters culture.

Leaders must be managers of meaning (Jackson & Parry, 2011).

IOD's LinkedIn Groups are lacking leadership.



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