Co-authored by Tom Preston, Barton Warner and Vanessa Tennyson
As Kylie Minogue’s super catchy song Padam, Padam becomes this year’s PRIDE anthem, we look at what makes LGBTQ+ people’s leadership a Padam, Padam advantage for many businesses.
Let’s start with some facts:
As more and more countries, such as Uganda and Russia, pass draconian laws that enshrine prejudice and punishment it is more important than ever that business stands up as a counter force for good, for acceptance. And in acknowledgement that often LGBTQ+ leaders bring enhanced value to organisations. And this is not the result of politically correct inclusivity and positive discrimination for the sake of it – it is because of merit.
According to Harvard Business Review a study found that the gay male earnings penalty had disappeared. Not only had it disappeared, it had turned into a 10% premium, meaning that gay men in recent years earned substantially more than straight men with similar education, experience, and job profiles. There are reasons that this penalty has turned into a premium.
One reason is that an increasing number of LGBTQ+ business leaders are rising to the very top of organisations – as just two examples of many think of the outgoing CEO of Qantas Allan Joyce and the incoming CEO of Man Group Robyn Grew. This implies that a disproportionate percentage of the total LGBTQ+ population are rising to the top of organisations based on their leadership skills and ability to add value.
So where do these enhanced skills come from?
From the executive coaching we have done with LGBTQ+ leaders and based on our own experiences as members of this community we would observe the following factors to be significant.
No matter how supportive the environment when we grow up, knowing that we are somehow “different” to the majority forces the early use of valuable leadership attributes. As examples;
• Listening to understand (initially gauging the potential threat)
• Being able to adapt to different environments (to find acceptance)
• Developing a strong work ethic (being driven to prove we are as good or better than those around us)
• Having empathy for how others are feeling (knowing how sensitive we ourselves have felt at times)
• Effective stakeholder navigation techniques (as they have felt critical to our very survival at times)
• The criticality of self-awareness and of self-acceptance (as avoiding these has not been an option during our corporate journeys)
• The early fostering of an optimistic outlook and the ability to transmit that optimism (as another much needed survival skill that is deeply aligned to entrepreneurialism)
• The ability to engage others through enhanced communication methods and the need to create fun even when working long hours.
• And perhaps most importantly, the courage, eventually to be fully our authentic selves.
While this is not an exhaustive list, all are leadership enhancers.
However, creating Leadership Padam, Padam is not an automatic given. It takes work from the leaders themselves and support and clear intention from organisations.
Organisations need to:
+ Realise that the world has fundamentally changed based on the fact that up to 30% younger people identify in some form to the LGBTQ+ community so if business wants to hire the very best talent they need to embrace this new reality early.
+ They need to promote true inclusivity and psychological safety around this and other diversity issues – not just through words but through concrete actions.
+ Be courageous about putting diverse leaders into positions of influence where they are able to role model both the merit they have earned and the authenticity that they bring to an organisation.
+ Provide executive coaching to support LGBTQ+ Leaders in the exploration and development of emotional intelligence as viewed through the lens of the client’s individual perspective and experiences, while encouraging the client to engage their true self. With the help of executive coaching, LGBTQ+ populations can begin to engage in the celebration of behavioral authenticity as a driver for enhancing society and commerce for generations to come.
And LGBTQ+ leaders need to:
+ Have the wisdom and self-awareness to develop the confidence to be authentically themselves in the work place as early as possible
+ Support, nurture and mentor other LGBGTQ+ people (and other diverse groups) to navigate early their organisations and how they develop themselves as influential leaders who have impact.
+ Ensure that organisations don’t just talk about caring about these issues but that they do what they say they care about. Make sure that organisations put their money where their mouth is.
It’s simply good business.
When LGBTQ+ Leaders and their organisations get it right – Padam, Padam. Need we say more?