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Creating a Culture of InclusionDoug Dickerson Salem-News.com
"To succeed as a team is to hold all of the members accountable for their expertise" - Mitchell Caplan
(Charleston, SC) - After considerable pressure brought to bear, President Barrack Obama is slated to meet this week with BP executives at the White House. The topic at hand of course is how to deal with the oil crisis in the Gulf. As that crisis lingers on, it imperative that all key leaders get together to work on solutions.
Many an executive have faced challenges in which strong leadership is required to chart the right course and bring stability to the organization. Essential to the success of any leader is one who is secure enough to seat people at the table, even those with opposing views, in order to move forward and get things done.
The concepts of creating a culture of inclusion are nothing new. In fact, the concepts, at least in theory, are quite simple. The execution of these concepts builds trust, boosts morale, and fosters good will. Your commitment to being an inclusive leader begins when you apply these simple principles.
Welcome dialogue. Any leader worth his salt wants honest, straight-forward information that will enable him to make well-informed decisions. During times of crisis, for example, many leaders take on a defensive posture that is inherently counter productive. When a leader assumes this posture within his organization, he creates barriers that not only hinders dialogue but discourages it.
Nitin Nohria said, “Communication is the real work of leadership.” This is especially true when seated at the table are those who disagree with you. Yet this is precisely the time in which your leadership mettle is earned. Ghandi said, “Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress.” Never underestimate the power of open dialogue, no matter how contentious. Dialogue is the lifeblood of your organization.
Develop a plan of action. The purpose of creating a culture of inclusion is to turn ideas and dialogue into action. Simply put, inclusion is not a formality. There is a time for dialogue and then there is a time to act. The best minds and ideas help formulate the right strategy to get things done. As Shakespeare said, “Strong reasons make strong actions.”
Action plans chart the course for inclusive leaders who understand the value of team participation. Churchill said, “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” That is why your action plan should have measurable results, attainable expectations, with people who are accountable.
Open communication. A culture of inclusion rises and falls on the quality of communication. To this end, the filters that typically guard the flow of information up and down the lines of authority must be streamlined. Regardless of how good the information is at the ground level, it means nothing if it is never makes its way to the top.
The inclusive leader understands the importance of quality communication and makes it a personal priority. Bertolt Brecht said, “Society cannot share a common communication system so long as it is split into warring factions.’ This is especially true in the culture of your organization. If warring factions exist within your organization it is imperative to bring unity. An inclusive leader takes responsibility for open communication and creates the environment for it to exist.
What obstacles do you face in creating a culture of inclusion within your organization? Do you welcome dialogue? Are you a decision maker? Do you take responsibility for the communication within your organization? As you develop these core principles you will soon be at ease with the way in which your leadership is received.
When you make a concerted effort to be an inclusive leader your team will respond, your stock will rise, and your organization will be better for it. Creating a culture of inclusion is the best way to move your organization forward.
Doug Dickerson is the former editor of the Berkeley Independent newspaper in South Carolina and is currently the director of university relations at Charleston Southern University. Doug’s writing has been recognized by the South Carolina Press Association, having won awards for enterprise reporting, series of articles, and for humor column writing. Doug’s passion for communicating leadership principles and personal development is crystallized through his Management Moment column and leadership columns he writes. Read more of Doug’s columns on his blog at dougsmanagementmoment.blogspot.com
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