By Dave Taylor, CEO of LDR Leadership

Cognitive diversity is the inclusion of people who have different styles of problem-solving and can offer unique perspectives because they think differently. The complex challenges facing today’s leaders (culturally, financially, technologically, generationally) requires leaders and groups to understand and appreciate the power of the diversity of thought or cognitive diversityAs leaders it is important for us to be comfortable with being “uncomfortable” and not having all the answers. There’s power in a diverse group of individuals making complex and difficult decisions when they each bring different viewpoints to the table.

1.       Numerous research studies highlight that diverse teams outperform individual decision-makers approximately 66% of the time. Additionally, when facing complex problems, a diverse set of ideas increases the probability of making a better decision.

2.       Increase in innovation and creativity. Bringing in others who have different views on the same issues means you will likely get a broader set of ideas, therefore, improving upon creativity in team decisions.

3.       Diversity of thought decreases the chance of “groupthink”. If we have a group that always agrees, we risk a lack of creativity or objectivity in decision making, potentially leading to poor decisions.

4.       Increases employee engagement. Who does not like their voice heard? When our teams, boards, staff, etc., feel their voices heard, they are happier and feel more empowered. The sense of ownership within the organization also increases.

Cognitive Diversity is less visible than ethnic or gender diversity. Think of it like an iceberg. We see the tip of the iceberg, which represents only a small part of the overall iceberg. We cannot see what is below the waterline. When we see people, we see age, race, physical appearance, gender, etc.  What we do not see is the most powerful. What is in their mind and what they think! This is where the diversity of thought takes hold!

True North: As leaders, we need to ensure we are establishing the psychological safety net for our team to express their viewpoints and opinions. The entire team benefits!