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Inclusion Is the New Diversity

Tony was on the Executive Leadership team. The senior leaders were charged with identifying a new board member from within their internal groups. Susan reported to Tony, and although her last performance review was lower than she had expected based on her boss’s assessment of her decisiveness and strategy setting, she was considered to have high potential in the organization based on her productivity and attention to detail.

While Tony briefly considered nominating Susan for the open board seat, he quickly ruled her out and moved on to other candidates. His reasoning was that Susan’s work style was more expressive and collaborative rather than the analytical, conceptual leadership style favored by the current board members.

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Why Inclusive Leadership Is So Important

One of the responses I received to my last post, The Truth About Inclusion, was from a senior executive in the tech industry. He agreed with a concept that I’d mentioned in my post—that of “psychological safety,” the zone where members of teams feel they are in a climate of trust and mutual respect—posited by Charles Duhigg in his article in The New York Times Magazine.

Noting that psychological safety appears to be a “way forward to successful teams,” the senior leader also pointed out what he feels to be a “Catch-22” about the concept: “that those who currently control the boardrooms and technical teams feel psychological safety when things remain the way they have always been.” So he asked: “How do you encourage the status quo teams to embrace creating psychological safety for all under these circumstances?”

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The Truth About Inclusion

Have you ever noticed how some teams just click while others get mired in dysfunctional dynamics? What’s the difference? Some fresh insights on this issue come from Google’s quest over the past five years to build the perfect team. What they discovered through their research sheds new light on why the issue of inclusion needs to be central to leaders, and what companies need to do to start moving in the direction of true inclusive leadership.

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