Are You Practicing These Ten Inclusionist Leadership Behaviors?
You may be this year’s leadership award winner, but you can be next years’ Number One on the unemployment line, if you don’t understand, or know how to be an inclusionist leader.
I’m often asked the following question by executives, who understand that inclusionist leadership, is more than just diversity training. “What can I do to be a more inclusive leader, so I can leverage the diversity of skills, and talents of my employees?”
I provide them with these ten key behaviors of outstanding inclusionist leaders.
Inclusionist leaders get to know employees every day. They don’t wait for a crisis, to ask employees their names, how they are, or for ideas to improve the organization.
If there is a crisis, they’ll get the cooperation and support they need from their diverse workforce. It’s not rocket science, and doesn’t take approval from the Board of Directors, to understand the role those CEOs, Presidents, Executive Directors, and anyone else in leadership play, to help employees feel important, welcome and part of a workplace community.
I was recently speaking in Washington DC during the earthquake. People were scared. Some of them had been through 9/11, and didn’t know what all the shaking was. I saw people in leadership, calmly lead their employees out of the building, comfort them, and make sure that people were able to get home.
Inclusionist leaders are not afraid to learn from hourly employees. They are too secure to feel threatened by other smart people?, no matter where they are in the org. chart.
That means inclusionist leaders don’t dumb down, or condescend. They raise people to higher levels. They focus on building employee’s strengths as opposed to constantly pointing out weaknesses.
One of my clients asked me to coach one of his managers, who constantly yelled at her employees, belittled them, and criticized them in front of other people. Productivity was suffering, and people were leaving.
Unfortunately, this woman was beyond coaching. Antonia was so sure that she was right. She that she needed to “set her employees straight,” and that they were all trying to “take advantage of the system.” She didn’t think their quitting was a problem, since “there were others out there waiting to take their jobs.”
My client had no choice but to let her go, so that her employees could flourish under a new manager, who had a history of developing employees and listening to new ideas.
Inclusionist leaders take responsibility for educating people whose negative/positive behaviors impact the organization
They educate vendors, contractors, security, etc. about company culture, and inclusionist behavior?.
A security guard at the SF Contemporary Jewish Museum, told two women attending a special Gertrude Stein exhibit, they couldn’t hold hands in the museum. When the Executive Director was informed of the situation, she apologized to the woman, relieved the security guard of his position, and took full responsibility. The security company was a contractor, and not a direct employee of the museum, but the Executive Director didn’t make excuses. The security company was made aware of the values and inclusive culture of the museum. Anyone who does not share those values will not be in any official capacity at the museum.
People who represent your organization must model inclusive behavior, even if they’re not employees?.
Inclusionist Leaders treat people as individuals, which means they don’t use clichés like; “I treat everybody the same.”
I can’t tell you how many managers told me they treat everybody the same, which has become a slogan. Next time your brain prompts you to use that phrase, think about what that really means.
If I treated everyone the same, then everyone would get the same pay, rewards, and feedback. If I treated everyone the same, I wouldn’t know how to seek and leverage the diverse talents, skills and experience of people in my workplace.
Would you send people in sales and marketing, to work in research and development if they didn’t have the skills?
Do you give everyone recognition in the same way?
Inclusionist Leaders make hiring decisions on more than just communication style assessments. They look at the whole person, and know that talent exists beyond where someone falls on a quadrant, or alphabet. What if a persons’ assessment defines them in a particular way, but they’ve developed interest in a different area? They use the assessment as just one piece of the process.
Inclusionist Leaders are willing to appreciate different styles of leadership.
I’ve worked in more than one company, where talented women who were continuously bypassed for promotion, left to join competitors who recognized their value.
When I asked the CEO of a client organization why he never promoted these women, he said, “those women just weren’t strategic enough, I need to find better ones.” It took him a while to understand that everyone does not need to be his thinking clone, and that there were different ways to be strategic, and increase profit.
I’m glad to say, he “saw the light,” but it took the exit of several of the best women in the organization. He became an inclusionist leader, and before he left the organization, there were many more women in senior management and even on the executive team.
Inclusionist leaders create processes that teach new employees the stated and/or written rules, regulations, and policies, but also the unwritten rules, and paths to success.
Employees can accelerate their growth and success, when they know the cultural norms of the organization. Inclusionist leaders are able to integrate new employees into the culture at a faster rate, than if employees learn by trial and error.
Inclusionist leaders intentionally LBO- Look Behind the Obvious, to recognize, develop and promote employees that may not fit the traditional mold.
Inclusionist leaders spend the extra time to uncover “hidden genius,” and don’t only hire “prefabricated people” from the best school with 4.0 grade point averages. (That would exclude Steve Jobs, or me)
Inclusionist leaders take responsibility, and hold managers accountable for their employees’ ability to articulate the organization’s mission, values and culture, and practice behaviors that demonstrate commitment to inclusion.
Inclusionist leaders follow-through on their promises, and model inclusive behavior. They don’t talk about life/work balance and then get angry if someone doesn’t work twelve hours a day. People trust them to do what they say.