“The best places to work are those that foster an inclusive culture – one where differences are celebrated and our people can be themselves and feel at home.” This was recently tweeted by Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, which comprises more than 400 companies.
Branson passionately believes in balance and equality in the workplace because he knows it drives better business performance. At Virgin, they recognize that a culture that brings together a group of people who mirror the wonderful diversity of the world and who can promote diversity of thought is good for business.
Adapting to a new leadership culture
The inclusive culture process begs the leadership question: what happens if you invest in developing and promoting your people and they leave your company? The answer under Branson’s leadership theory would be: what happens if we don’t and they stay? This leadership question dominated the “old leadership” style and the answer reflects what is needed to operate today and in the future. You cannot continue repeating the leadership loop of the past and expect it to adapt to the present and the rapidly evolving future.
Risk-taking requires courage. Traditionally, a leader needed to be a visionary and set the direction of the company, taking the organization toward a better future by influencing and engaging others while trying to avoid a lot of risk. Today’s leader also needs to be inclusive in both their attitude and their actions. This takes a great deal of courage because leaders are not supposed to be vulnerable and must always have all the answers. To be exclusionary is easy but to be a leader that is inclusionary takes a great deal of courage; one needs to overcome uncertainty, face the corporate dangers that might lurk in the corner office, such as the risk of being wrong or being distracted from the chosen course of action.
Leaders need to draw on their own self-confidence and internal resources so they can find the courage necessary to lead inclusively. Strengthen these areas of your life with meditation, a favorite practice of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple or read something motivational or inspirational every morning before leaving for work.
Growth begins with curiosity. Breakthrough innovation is what sets people and companies apart. The iPhone is a great example of just such innovation — taking a fairly commonplace device, the cell phone, and making it better and more innovative than any other cell phone on the market. Learn to foster an eagerness to know more
about something, what needs to change or how to improve or completely replace something so it works better.
Block out quiet time, eliminate interruptions, especially electronic ones that are so invasive, then sit down with a piece of paper or tablet and jot down everything that pops
into your mind in five minutes. You can spend more than five minutes but in the beginning use at least five minutes so you get past the blank stare and the “I don’t have
any more ideas” timeframe. Make no judgements about what you wrote. Write it down even if it seems silly or irrelevant. If you commit to doing this regularly, at least twice per
week, you will resolve nagging problems, create solutions for unanticipated problems and innovate for the future.
Engagement and teamwork require collaboration. Once you have become brave enough to express your courage and self-confidence, and curious enough to decide you
can play a pivotal role in growth and innovation, it is time to collaborate with your team. Be sure your team is filled with those who can bring diverse ideas, life experiences and
principles. Be inclusive of all ages, backgrounds and work experience. Use the same approach here as you did in your quiet time. Bring an additional person in
to collect all of the free-flowing ideas on a white board or large screen. Be sure it is understood in the beginning that no idea is wrong or “laughable.” The idea here is to
encourage creativity and diverse thinking to come up with solutions for current problems or to innovate for the future.
Whether you are trying to find a solution, prevent a problem or innovate, it is important that non-judgmental inclusivity is the attitude that prevails throughout the session. It is
also better to have several shorter sessions where you build on ideas presented than long, drawn-out sessions. That gets everyone in the habit of thinking on their feet and
offering ideas quickly rather than liking or disliking what someone else just said. Repeat this process regularly and you will reap the benefits of engagement and productivity.
A leadership truism that fits this whole philosophy is “Exclusive leaders care about who is right. Good leaders care about what is right and take action to ensure inclusivity in
finding solutions.” Inclusive leaders apply courage, curiosity and collaboration to the workplace.
© Pat Heydlauff, all rights reserved 2016
Pat Heydlauff, a “flow of focus” expert, speaker and consultant designs workplace environments that fuel the flow of focus, maximizes productivity and yields future sustainability. She is author of the forthcoming book, Focus • Connect • Regenerate 7 Ways to Lead and Fuel Sustainability and published books, Feng Shui, So Easy a Child Can Do It, The Way We Go, Your Roadmap to a Better Future and Selling Your Home with a Competitive Edge. Contact her at 561-408-2708 or www.engagetolead.com.Share