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Student blog: Four reasons why diversity is the key to effective leadership

Author: Katherine of Year 12

17 Aug 2016

Over the summer holidays of 2015-6, Taylor, Lily, and I attended the Alliance of Girls Schools Australia Student Leadership Conference at Bond University in Queensland. Alongside 200 other girls, we were taught leadership skills that we could harness in our roles as prefects. One particular workshop, Career Birds, outlined the value in building a team of different types of leaders, and over the next year I found that leading a diverse team taught me vital lessons about collaboration, fairness, and getting the job done. 

1. Diversity reflects the values of equality and fairness

While within the Wenona community, there is a large portion of girls who share socio-economic and racial backgrounds, our leadership team is still representative of how the School values equality and fairness. The leadership team reflects the way our School values diversity as different social groups are represented, and there are no stipulations on what subjects students must undertake, grades they must reach, or co-curricular activities they must complete before applying for a leadership role. This model is one we can carry into our lives beyond school, and look for in our future workplaces. It is one we can reflect on in the media, particularly in regards to equal opportunity for women and disadvantaged minority groups. 

2. Diversity ensures things get done

The key to achieving a team’s leadership goal is having an array of people with different qualities to facilitate the process, from planning to execution. If there are no big thinkers, there is no development of a creative goal. If there are no pragmatic organisers, there is no action taken to bring the plan to fruition. If there is no one to get feedback from, there is no way the implementation of the goal can be improved. To get any job done, there must be diverse ways of thinking and communication that allow for the best possible outcome. 

3. Diversity ensures genuine representation

Leadership teams are put in place to represent the voice of a broader community. While many communities share values and experiences, like the Wenona community does, sometimes an entire group is completely diverse. As a result, their representatives must be similarly diverse to allow for every individual to feel they can be authentically vouched for by at least one person in their elected body of leaders. At Wenona, we understand that all groups in society need representation, particularly marginalised communities that struggle to attain legal or media attention. Through a representative leadership system, we are empowered and encouraged to fight for those unable to speak for themselves outside of our school environment.

4. Diversity improves one’s collaboration skills

By working a group of girls with a multi-faceted range of perspectives, experiences, and leadership qualities, I was able to improve my collaborative skills. Over the year, having to come to numerous significant decisions proved a definite challenge as each of the girls had a unique spin on every argument, and we only ever needed one solution. But this challenge, helped me become a better listener and learn how to compromise. Listening to a diverse set of arguments, learning to collaborate and make decisions are all skills I will need when entering the workforce, but they are also important in improving effective communication and relationships with friends and family.