Diversity Training and Leadership

Berkley Baker, a highly talented Master Facilitator at The Center for Leadership Studies, was in town conducting a Situational Leadership® workshop. I made it a point to catch up with him as the last of the learners left our training room and we somehow wound up talking about diversity training or, more accurately, bad diversity training. As an African American Gen Xer, Berkley brings a unique perspective to that table.

Good Diversity Training vs Bad Diversity Training

Bad Diversity Training

Bad diversity training is the kind that raises awareness, then pretty much calls it a day. The overwhelming focus of the learning experience is on factors of separation as opposed to elements of commonality. Participants often emerge with either a heightened sense of underappreciated uniqueness or the preliminary recognition of an unconscious bias. The problem is that’s where the training ends. There is limited guidance or perspective on how those newfound states of mind can be translated to changes in behavior that help each participant, let alone the organization they work for or the team they support

Good Diversity Training

Good diversity training is remarkably like good leadership training. First off, you learn something about yourself. You receive insight on your natural influence-related strengths, as well as aspects of the influence spectrum that you find yourself struggling with. You are then provided with the opportunity to ponder that newfound awareness along with the implications of your current reality. Next, you are provided with tools that will help turn your areas of discomfort/neglect into strengths. At a minimum, good diversity training provides confirmation for your strengths as well as a logical, repeatable process that can be leveraged to help you with people that have presented challenges in the past.

The Similarities of Good Situational Leadership® Training &  Good Diversity Training

In many respects, good Situational Leadership® training is indistinguishable from good diversity training. For example, it features a model that actively discriminates based on answers to two, crucial diagnostic questions:

  1. What is the task that needs to be accomplished?
    1. This should be assessed at the lowest possible common denominator
  2. What is the Performance Readiness® Level of the person performing the task?
    1. A Performance Readiness® Level is operationally defined as the individual’s task-specific ability and willingness

Leaders need to employ discipline time after time in order to develop anything remotely related to proficiency with those two steps. And proficiency is a function of objectivity. Unfortunately, objectivity is a lot like honesty. When we are asked to self-assess, we generally give ourselves very high marks. But it doesn’t really matter what we as leaders think about our ability to control our biases. What matters is the perceptions of the people we attempt to influence. Would they describe us as fair, consistent or objective?

Would an objective third party describe the manner in which we orchestrate opportunity as equitable? This is key, of course.

Good diversity training is really all about leadership. And, at its core, good leadership training is really all about effectively managing diversity.

The Importance Of Diversity Training

Diversity training is critical in order to create an equitable workplace. Learn more from Daryl Davis.


  1. Based on your own personal experience as a leader in an organization:
    1. What stands in the way of objective decision-making?
    2. What can be done to overcome those obstacles?