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People Management

ISS research shows: Diversity grows leadership performance

Diversity grows leadership performance

New ISS research shows that management of diverse teams strengthens managers’ competencies within communication, relationship building, and talent development.

There is no doubt that the workforce continues to be the greatest asset available for every business and organization, carving out a competitive edge. As pointed out by research published by Forbes, Harvard Business Review and ISS – diversity is required to make the best out of it.

In 2016, ISS research showed that companies with a diverse leadership yield higher profit  while others have documented that diversity in the workforce has a positive impact on business economy, creativity, innovation and humanity.

The hidden benefit of diversity unveiled

New ISS research now shows that a diverse workforce entails even more benefits that previously assumed. An observation of the daily management practices of 30 middle managers showed that leading diverse teams strengthens managers’ competencies within communication, relationship building, and talent development.


Considering diversity in language, education, gender, culture and religion –  leaders of diverse teams cannot only depend on one type of leadership. They continuously must adapt their management styles to team’s composition, the individual competencies and the social and professional dynamics.

Leaders, who can tackle and adapt to this complexity, have the potential to develop a relationship-oriented, empathetic management style, utilizing all the competencies in the team and ensuring inclusion.

Diversity empowers communication, relationship building and talent development

By managing diverse teams, the leader actively strengthens three vital management competencies: communication, relationship-building and talent development.

A very tangible advantage of managing diverse teams is increased communication skills. Diversity drives the necessity to develop frequent, creative, appreciative, effective and patient communication methods favoring all employees. Possessing these communicative skills and practicing these multifaceted communication methods is nevertheless an essential element in the retention of employees as it creates feelings of safety, recognition and care. This again brings about stability and resilience in the teams as it builds on strong and committed leader-employee relations.

The management of diverse teams also empowers the manager as a relationship builder. While homogeneous teams immediately might provide a sense of community and membership, managers of diverse teams must have additional focus on helping to facilitate social and professional bonds. Here relational leadership skills as well as social skills are pivotal to strengthen social ties and to create durable relationships among team members.

Finally, to recognize and make use of the many competences and skills that a diverse team represents, the leader must identify and appreciate the individual members’ contributions and values. The study shows that appreciating diverse skills and approaches to work positively impacts the leaders focus on talent development.


  • I couldn’t agree more. With a team of same culture, gender, education, trade background may easily dominate risk of a single focus approach. A diversity approach open up debate with fresh air and a holistic 360 all round approach with the team often come up with an innovative solution.

  • I think a lot of this could help my shift. Especially when you need training in a new area. Possibly could use some positive feedback from the managers about how well your doing.

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