The MPW Insiders Network is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: “What’s the key to great leadership?” is written by Jyoti Chopra, global head of diversity and inclusion at BNY Mellon.
The hallmarks of exemplary leadership are courage, boldness, and challenging the status quo. Alexis Herman, former U.S. secretary of labor, is a great example. In addition to leading a corporate consulting practice and serving on several blue-chip boards, she currently serves as chair of the diversity advisory board (which I'm on) at Toyota North America (tm). She has steadfastly and relentlessly led the advancement of a diverse, inclusive culture and innovative business practices. She’s been an inspiring catalyst for change from within.
Truly great leadership, in my opinion, happens when a strong, diverse team shares the same vision. When I consider qualities of the most effective leaders, most share the ability to build and sustain an agile and diverse workforce. As our world continues to undergo rapid globalization, it will only become more vital for leaders to embrace unique points of view and recognize that diverse teams aren’t simply about representing various ethnic backgrounds, but also about encouraging and embracing diversity in experiences and ideas.
Having been raised in North London by parents who immigrated from India, my move to New York to pursue my bachelor’s degree further opened my eyes to the value of cultural melting pots. Shortly thereafter, I began working at the United Nations, gaining invaluable exposure to perhaps one of the most diverse groups of change-makers and world leaders, while building upon my passion for advocating for equal opportunities in the workplace and society.
Making the shift to the financial services sector, I have sought to prove that a diverse workforce is a distinct competitive advantage. Broadening the talent pool and enabling access to more unique ideas from individuals of varying backgrounds delivers tangible benefits for everyone involved. As effective leadership becomes increasingly important amidst complex and constantly evolving financial and regulatory environments, leaders must embrace diverse experiences and consider fresh perspectives to spot untapped opportunities and unearth new innovations.
In order to foster an engaged and inclusive workforce, leaders need to be sensitive to the needs of their teams. Great leadership isn’t just about assigning tasks and delegating; it’s about helping those around you leverage their distinctive strengths to innovate the business. In an effort to showcase emerging leaders and emphasize the importance of a global mindset, I’ve championed with colleagues BNY Mellon’s Signature Leadership Forum series. Launched in 2012, the series has evolved to become our flagship program for attracting and retaining experienced professionals with diverse perspectives. And after hearing from investors, I’ve realized that more and more, they're investing in companies that make decisions aligned with their own social and moral values.
Having a career dedicated to opening more doors for those from diverse backgrounds, I hope that future leaders hold these doors of opportunity open for others. This spirit of inclusion is finally being recognized not only as an element of good corporate citizenship, but as a true competitive advantage. As we seek to identify successful future leaders and create pathways for development, I believe we’ll increasingly look to those leveraging the collective knowledge and background of their teams to drive and facilitate positive change and to create unprecedented opportunities for talent in the future.