Ministry of Justice
Why it's important to have diversity in leadership
I was once categorically told by a course teacher that you don’t find people who exhibit a ‘facilitator’ leadership style (people-focused over task-focused, empowering over directive) in leadership positions. “Apart from perhaps as the HR Director,” she said disparagingly. What a ridiculous thing to say, I thought. The sad part is, it’s true, ‘facilitator’ types are much less represented in senior positions compared to the population as a whole, and what’s worse is nearly half of women identify as this personality type.
For me, the end goal of diversity in leadership is to have a balance in styles and thought processes - not just to have equal numbers of men and women in leadership. The balance in styles maximises our ability to identify the right strategy and motivate everyone to deliver it. However, women heavily outnumber men in personality types underrepresented in leadership positions, so gender balance is a good proxy measure.
But one person with a different style is not enough. They will usually ‘fit in’ with the presiding culture, negating their impact on the diversity of thought of the organisation. It is also widely recognised that without role models that we can relate to, we don’t imagine the role is suitable for us and don’t work towards it. We are stuck in a cycle!
Men are also victims of this perception. I know many very capable men who are people-focused and open to others’ ideas that didn’t see a future for themselves and switched careers, all because they didn’t see people like themselves in leadership positions.
We all benefit because if the culture of the organisation changes, it creates more space for people to grow, take ownership and contribute to strategy at all levels.
|Traditional ‘driver’ leadership style||Alternative ‘facilitator’ leadership style|
|sets direction; is directive and assertive||collaborates; wants to understand context & different points of view|
|‘owns’ ideas (even if they didn’t come up with them)||amplifies the individuals and teams who were the source of ideas|
|expresses direction with authority, certainty, and conviction||openly acknowledges uncertainty|
|expects subordinates to toe the line||is accepting of challenge, and in return expects ownership at all levels|
|focuses on their vision as the single right answer||acknowledges there are many different ways of moving forward (and helps their teams to pick one!)|
In reality, a good leader chooses the right approach in the right situation. Leaders need to be adept at using other styles as well as their natural approach. If there is a crisis or a large capability gap in the team, the facilitator approach isn’t likely to get the results needed and may result in disaster.
Without a strong focus on diversity in our leadership, we aren’t exposed to all approaches. Future ‘facilitator-leaning’ leaders don’t emerge as they leave to pursue other careers. Existing leaders don’t recognise there is a missing string to their bow as they rarely see others using this approach. We all continue to believe that those who don’t fit the mold, aren’t fit to be leaders. We all miss out on the opportunity to work in a rounded culture that values people as well as outcomes and acknowledges emerging context and strategy, not just the HIPPO (highest paid person’s opinion).
Latest News from
Ministry of Justice
£3.1 million for support to those representing themselves in court22/01/2021 10:15:00
Funding from a new grant has now been fully awarded to 11 different projects supporting vulnerable people across England and Wales, the Ministry of Justice has announced.
Managing the pandemic in prisons21/01/2021 10:15:00
The quick and decisive action taken since the beginning of the pandemic has helped to limit the spread of the virus in prisons.
New ‘Nightingale Court’ opens at University of Hull19/01/2021 15:15:15
University of Hull has opened its doors as a ‘Nightingale Court’, joining the national effort to tackle the impact of coronavirus on the justice system.
Women in Technology19/01/2021 12:33:00
Blog posted by: Eloise Tait, 18 January 2021 – Categories: Our People, Women in Tech.
Secure video calls help all prisoners maintain essential family ties during pandemic19/01/2021 08:15:00
Secure video calls rolled out in all prisons in just over 6 months to maintain vital family contact.
Lord Chancellor demands immediate improvements at Rainsbrook18/01/2021 13:15:00
The Lord Chancellor recently (15 January 2021) reassured Ofsted that immediate improvements are being made at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre in Warwickshire, which is run by private contractor MTC.
What it's like to support Prisons and Probation through WebOps15/01/2021 15:15:15
Blog posted by: Ewa Stempel, 13 January 2021 – Categories: Digital skills, Our services, WebOps.
Our lockdown experiences...Reflections on living through a pandemic14/01/2021 13:15:00
Blog posted by: Jenni Moss, 13 January 2021 – Categories: Covid-19, Our People, Wellbeing.
Lord Chancellor: It’s time for action on mental health in prisons13/01/2021 14:15:00
The Lord Chancellor sets out how the government plans to support people with neurodivergent conditions such as autism and dyslexia, as well as those with acute mental health problems, within the criminal justice system.