Key Point: We still have plenty of leaders that think of “inclusiveness” as “politically correct,” and mushy headed, phoney bologna. I recently participated in a panel discussion involving top execs and executive MBAs. The execs were primary C suite folks and (not surprisingly), mostly older white males.
On the panel, I firmly stated my belief that leaders could not afford to brush off the importance of intentional inclusiveness. In order to have adaptive cultures, we need massive cognitive diversity and psychologically safe, inclusive environments. At the dinner table after the panel discussion, a senior exec who listened to our panel discussion suggested that I was “patronizing” and that he “was very inclusive.” He emphasized though, competence trumped all other considerations and some pools (like engineering/technology) limited inclusive possibilities… Hmm… So, I checked out some research to help us explore the question of how objective and self-aware leaders stand on the matter of inclusivity.
The consulting firm Zenger/Folkman (as published in the Harvard Business Review), analyzed one large organization with an excellent track record of hiring and promoting diverse candidates, with a reputation for inclusion. Zenger administered 360-degree feedback assessments for roughly 4,000 leaders, and the company agreed to let them use that data for this analysis. A summary of the findings as noted in the HBR article:
“1. Leaders are not good judges of their own effectiveness on valuing diversity; and those leaders who are poorest fail to see the problem, while those who are the best don’t realize their skill and effectiveness…
2. Leaders who were rated very poorly on valuing diversity and inclusion were rated in only the 15th percentile for their overall leadership effectiveness, while those who were rated in the top 10 percent of those two items were rated in the 79th percentile…
Valuing diversity is an attitude and mindset. Practicing inclusion involves a set of behaviors that can be developed in leaders. Our research has shown that self-perceptions in this arena are not highly accurate. While it could be argued that individual leaders may best know what’s in their hearts, others are in a far better position to objectively evaluate whether and how they practice inclusion in their day-to-day work.”
Personal Leadership Moves:
- Put the tired, old-school arguments about diversity and inclusion negatively competing with competence to rest for good. Value identity and cognitive diversity as a necessary investment in cultural adaptability and innovation.
- Do not accept the B.S. that leaders can accurately self-assess how much they really value diversity/inclusion. Others need to help us see our blind spots on this topic.
- Intentionally work on understanding what it means to be inclusive. Invest in very credible assessment tools to really find out where you stand on the diversity/inclusion continuum.
Inclusively Competent in Personal Leadership,
One Millennial View: As a Millennial, there has always been a huge amount of inclusiveness and diversity in the places I’ve worked. I’m thrilled to say that from my experience, our main concern and priority was getting the job done, and all anyone cared about was performance quality. So, perhaps that’s a good indication we’re already moving forward.
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis