Leading Diversity in the 21st Century
reviewed by Denver Fowler & Sarah Graham - July 09, 2018
Title: Leading Diversity in the 21st Century
Author(s): Terri A. Scandura & Edwin Mouriño-Ruíz
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1681238764, Pages: 374, Year: 2017
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It is well known that the Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) model of leadership has proved to be an effective leadership style in terms of employee well-being and performance. However, little to no research exists on how diversity affects the development and outcomes of LMX. In Leading for Diversity in the 21st Century, editors Scandura and Mouriño-Ruíz aim to answer this very question.
The editors begin with a strong introduction that includes key information, including a brief review of current literature, while arguing that in general, diversity in the literature remains piecemeal and sparse (p. 1). Section One, Women and Minorities, presents five chapters focusing on the various experiences that women and minorities face in the 21st century workforce. Each chapter, although unique to its focus area, includes a discussion on the importance of High Quality Connections (HQC). Chapter One, Gender as a Deep-Level, Communicated, and Interactional Construct, pays specific attention to explaining the way in which women in the workforce have unique communication characteristics. The authors illustrate that understanding various gender communications styles (GCOM) is an important way of bettering the connections between individuals in the workplace.
Chapter Two, Mentors, Sponsors, and Diversity in Work Organizations, clearly reiterates the significance of having a quality mentor in the workplace in order to support individuals growth and development. The authors point out that having a quality mentor is a firm example of an HQC. They go on to solidify the fact that women and minorities are the least likely to receive a quality mentor, substantiating the fact that such groups are at a disadvantage for experiencing a supportive workplace.
Chapter Three, Leadership Diversity in Africa and the African Diaspora, discusses the findings from the Leadership Effectiveness in Africa and the Diaspora (LEAD) research project which found that constituents define quality leadership and management differently in African countries than in the African Diaspora (i.e., the United States, Canada, the Caribbean). In summary, participants in the African Diaspora found encouragement, charisma, inspiration, and relationship behaviors as strong characteristics of leaders, whereas participants in Africa identified extrinsic factors such as money and intrinsic factors such as need to succeed as what motivates leaders.
Chapter Four, Managing the Hispanic Workforce in the Context of Values, Acculturation, and Identity, highlights the need to develop and utilize culturally embedded leadership styles to most effectively develop HQC with the Hispanic workforce. Similarly, Chapter Five, Leading Women: Unique Challenges and Suggestions for Moving Forward, illuminates the unique challenges faced by women in the workplace as a way of emphasizing the need for leadership paradigms to shift in order to meet the diverse needs of the workforce. The authors connect such challenges to the experiences of the minority workforce, illustrating the benefits both groups would gain if leadership approaches were more culturally sensitive.
Section Two, Age and Generations, is a unique addition to the text dedicated to known trends related to both age and generations at the workplace. This is an important section given the current state of the U.S. workforce with baby boomers close to retirement but still active within the workforce in some way, shape, or form.
Chapter Six, The Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) Approach to Age and Diversity, is ripe with strategies for how to best navigate the issues of age and diversity in the workplace, perhaps especially as it applies to certain stereotypes and discrimination against older employees. In essence, the chapter reminds readers of the importance of viewing such workers as having intuitional knowledge as well as other inimitable attributes. Chapter Seven, Leader-Member Relationships in an Aging Workforce, continues to outline the need for leaders to value an aging workforce. This particular chapter includes a brief overview of the research as it relates to behavior and age, while also reiterating exactly how leaders can develop HCQs with older subordinates.
Chapter Eight, Some of My Best Friends at Work Are Millennials: Leader-Member Exchange in the Face of Evolving Generational Diversity in the Workplace, brings a research lens to this topic by offering key evidence from a qualitative study conducted on LMX across different generations (e.g., baby boomers, gen X, millennials). The authors primarily provide evidence on the differing approaches to HQCs as they apply to different generations; that is, the employee views of what HQCs are, and how they may differ according to the generation of a given individual. Given that millennials currently occupy the majority of the U.S. workforce, this chapter is particularly valuable.
In the third and final section, Emerging Trends, the authors explore several emerging trends as they apply to leading diversity in the 21st century and beyond. Chapter Ten, LMX and Autism: Effective Working Relationships, reminds the reader that nearly half a million individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will be joining the workforce over the next decade. Astoundingly, the authors reiterate the fact that little to no research exists on this particular topic. The chapter focuses on how to lead, mentor, and support workers with ASD, and also discusses the need to revisit and examine employer policies as they apply to this particular group of employees. Chapter Eleven, Trans Formational: LMX, Cisgenderism, and Building Inclusive Workplaces, focuses on the necessity of ensuring that the workplace setting is inclusive for transgender employees. The final chapter, Chapter Twelve, Social Media, Innovation, and Diversity in the 21st Century, provides excellent insight regarding the increasing role of social media, highlighting how it can be utilized to enhance diversity initiatives throughout a given organization or workplace setting.
This book would be useful for any individual who is an aspiring or practicing leader in any given organization. Furthermore, the text would certainly be beneficial if utilized in courses taught by those individuals responsible for preparing future leaders in the higher education setting. Finally, researchers and scholars may find the book useful as a reference point as it undoubtedly contributes to the extant literature on managing diversity at the workplace, LMX, and HQCs in the 21st century.