Fear of Diversity

For the past several weeks, I have been teaching leadership in the MBA in Science and Technology program at Queen’s University, a highly-rated intensive one-year MBA that draws high-tech students from around the globe. It’s hard to imagine a more diverse group gathered together in learning to be 21st-century leaders. At least 40 of the 66 students are what the politically correct folks would label “visible minorities.” There are 21 different mother tongues represented in the classroom and almost as many spiritual traditions. Now that’s a whole lot of diversity by any benchmark.

The experience has made me even more aware of the complexity of life these days in the global economy. Frankly, I think it’s wonderful, even though I am challenged to listen deeply to the subtle differences in how students interpret the emerging world through their cultural lenses. The students from mainland China, for instance, have taught me new insights into the leadership wisdom of traditional Zen thought, including the value of gentle observation over mindless action.

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WRITTEN BY
Rev. Dr. Sandy Cotton
Rev. Dr. Sandy Cotton is a professor of leadership and organization in the School of Business at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He is also an ordained deacon of the Anglican Church of Canada.