When a leader practices inclusive behavior, they make the people on their team feel welcome, safe, and as if they belong. Today, Perry and Chris discuss eight things that inclusive leader’s value and why these practices lead to more engaged teams.
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Perry Holley: Welcome to the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast, where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others, and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell facilitator and coach.
Chris Goede: And I’m Chris Goede, vice-president of the John Maxwell Company. Welcome and thank you for joining. If you’d love to learn more about our workshops that we have for teams, for organizations, if you want to download the learners’ guide, learn more about the blog posts that Perry writes for us, please visit johnmaxwellcompany.com/podcast. And while you’re there, if you have a question or maybe even a topic or something that you’re struggling with as a leader, we would love to put some thought behind that and bring it to you in an upcoming podcast.
Well, today’s topic is titled The Eight Values of Highly Inclusive Leaders. After doing our series on inclusive leadership, we received a lot of positive responses and leaders just thanking us for bringing that content to them. And so they asked for a little bit more of it. What I love about your title this time here is that you’re combining values with inclusive leadership. And as I look at that, just jumps off the page at me because, man, as an inclusive leader and looking through this content, there’s no doubt about it that I think these are values that you have to have.
Perry Holley: And thank you. It was nice to hear from so many that generally want to be inclusive and are working hard to leverage their diverse teams through inclusive behavior. So we really like that. I was working on a keynote that’s coming up soon on the subject and I just got to thinking about what is it inclusive leaders value? What sets you apart from someone who’s not so inclusive? So I thought we just run through them and maybe get some of your feedback on those.
Chris Goede: Yeah. I’d love to do that. Before we start, I just want to kind of remind everybody that maybe if you didn’t have a chance to listen to our series on inclusive leadership, I’d encourage you to go back and do that after this one. Make sure you listen to this one, finish this one out first. But if you do, go ahead and do that.
But real quick, just to kind of set the stage if you hadn’t, I just want to remind our listeners what we mean by inclusive leadership. So, when a leader practices inclusive behavior, they make the people on the team feel welcome, feel safe, as if they belong. I mean, think about that. Again, simplicity. Right? But it’s so hard to do. A lot of us have diverse teams, but yet we’re not inclusively leading them in order so that every individual on their own has those three words that I think are so important, which is they got to feel welcome, feel safe, as if they belong, in order for them to get the most out of their gifts and talents and why they’re at the table. And I think we’ve got to make sure that we remember that. And if we don’t, the negative side is that you’re not going to get everything out of the individual.
Perry Holley: Well, you lose the whole diversity advantage.
Chris Goede: Yeah. You’re not getting any perspective. And I love how you talked about that. So we want to create an environment where… They were hired for a certain reason, allow them to bring that reason to the table. Mark Cole talks a lot about bringing your leadership voice. What’s your perspective? What’s your lens? What are you thinking? Great. Right? Bring that to the table so that we as an organization can become better because of the collective. But you can only do that if you lead from an inclusive standpoint. So let’s get started.
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Perry Holley: That’s right. So what do inclusive leaders value? I said, number one, they value learning over knowing. I thought, leaders who practice inclusive behavior they’re teachable. And even though we may think we know, an inclusive leader is going to be open to facts from someone else, maybe someone from a different background, maybe someone who may know differently than me, and they invite others to have a voice. That’s what I love about that.
Chris Goede: Yeah. I love that. Sorry, I was laughing. I was thinking about a few leaders I’ve had, not here in this organization, but previously in different lifetime.
Number two, inclusive leaders value collaboration over individuality. I’ve just mentioned the word being collaborative. And I think that if we’re going to lean into diverse nature of a team, which we need to, then we’ve got to invite collaboration and teamwork. And we talk about being authentic a lot in just our leadership journey. And in order to have a very authentic and transparent team, to have the best collaboration, the best ideas win, the best for that team, for the organization, then we’ve got to be open to those collaborative conversations. And so, don’t allow the perspectives that somebody may have to distract from the collaborative effort of having that diverse team. That’s the brilliance of it. And so too many people are like, “Yeah. No, we have a diverse team.” Right. Okay. Well, does everyone feel to your point, welcome? Are they all [inaudible 00:05:06] their perspective? If not, then I think you might want to look at whether or not it is more of an individuality approach than it is a collaborative team effort.
Perry Holley: And if you’re collaborative, and go back to number one, learning over knowing, if you’re a learning collaborator, wow, what a combination. That really opens doors. Number three, I thought was connecting. [inaudible 00:05:24]. Inclusive leaders value connecting over being right. And maybe I learned this being married, but if my goal is to win or be right, I’m generally not going to do either. If your goal is to win or be right, you’re going to send a message that it’s not safe to speak up or to contribute. And you’ll close the door to genuinely connecting with the members of your team. And I see this so much is that, “I’m the leader I’m supposed to be right, I’m supposed to know, I’m supposed to have the answer.” And you’re saying, “No, I’m more about connecting and inviting you to have a voice and to hear from you.”
Chris Goede: I’m just telling you, it’s amazing what you will learn as a leader when you connect with your people. Now, let me give you a 3A that I was just thinking about. I may or may not have heard this in my personal side of life, my awesome wife, “Hey, listen, it’s really about doing right versus being right.” And I think as leaders, sometimes we come where we got to be right, we’ve got to have all the answers. We were talking about a client that’s very near and dear to our heart that we’re helping through some cultural transformation inside their organization. And the leader, who is a very competent leader that you’re coaching was like, “I thought I had to bring all the ideas to table. I thought I had to be right in the situation.” And so there’s a little 3A for you, you can put it in a [Samsung 00:06:50].
Number four, inclusive leaders value, and we talk about this word all the time, questions over statements. I think that in order for you to be inclusive, in order for you to really truly understand the perspective of your entire team and what they bring to the table, you have to be, and I love this, world-class question askers, with an [inaudible 00:07:12] on there. You have to. Learn it. It’s a skill. It’s something that you can learn and develop. And I’ll tell you what, statements are a closed doors approach. We all know that. And if you begin to ask questions in the right way, it’s going to open doors for discussion.
Perry Holley: And that’s come up on other podcasts. I don’t apologize for repeating it because I think so many of us in leadership need to understand that when I open with questions, I invite you to join me. The next one also has come up before in other podcasts was that inclusive leaders value empathy over sympathy. We talked about that recently. But when you feel with someone versus feeling for someone, you put yourself in their shoes and say me too. It’s an empathetic communication style that builds trust, I’ve found, and tells people they’re safe here, and you’re welcome here, you belong here, and I’m beside you in that.
Chris Goede: Hey, share that example we were just talking about a minute ago. In between our recordings, we were talking about a great illustration that really kind of aligns with this point. And it’s almost a word picture or a word story that I think if leaders could keep this in the mind as you begin thinking about inclusivity of your leadership and team… Share that with our listeners [crosstalk 00:08:24].
Perry Holley: Yeah. We had a discussion about what’s the difference between sympathy and empathy here in the studio. And this is Brené Brown’s example. I read it in a book she had. She said if someone fell in a hole and you walked up and you look down and they were in the hole, if you were sympathetic, you’d say, “I’m so sorry, you’re in a hole.” But if you were empathetic, you would say, “I’ll be right down.” You would join them in the hole.
Chris Goede: Yeah. It just came to my mind as you were talking about that, that I’d encourage all of us as leaders, as individuals, or those with influence peer to peer, that you have that mindset.
Number six, I think inclusive leaders value we over me goes back to even some of this collaborative conversation that we were just having a minute ago. But I think inclusive leaders know they will never be successful unless a lot of people, including your team, want them to be. And I think that we’ve got to, as leaders, make sure that we portray that so that they know that we want them to be successful, we want the team to be successful.
And just be careful because your walk speaks so much louder than your talk. And they’re watching you on a day-to-day basis of your interaction. And what is your motive? It’s funny, we were doing an exercise with our team, our internal team here, and it was about an assessment of valuing people. And the lesson started off with a paragraph that had four or five questions that I feel like I add value to people. I feel like that. And then I read the questions and I go, “Do I really?” And I shared that with my team. Right? I was like, “Do I really? What is that?” And so as leaders, you just need to know that you got to put the team first. And you will motivate the people on your team to stay engaged if you have that approach of we over me.
Perry Holley: Yep. Inclusive leaders also value acceptance over judgment. That’s number seven, acceptance over judgment. And what I found with… If I really have a diverse team, then I need to realize that a lot of people on this team are not like me and that when people are different from me, it can be very tempting to judge those differences. And as we talked in our series we did on inclusiveness about bias and things that are already in my head, unconscious bias, that if I judge those differences versus recognizing and accepting those difference… So I want to be able to see difference, except difference, not judged difference. I want to be that accepting leader to which your difference doesn’t stand out, it’s an added value to our team.
Chris Goede: That’s so good. The final one, number eight, inclusive leaders value perspective of others over stating your truth. Reminds me of a good old movie, “You can’t handle the truth.” Right? You don’t want to handle my truth. To be honest with you, you don’t want to know my truth, right, because it’s probably so far off. But I want to know the perspective. First thing I thought about when this principal came up in the topic we’re talking about today is this intent versus perception gap. It’s a brilliant thought process of, we judge ourselves by our intent, we judge other people by their actions. And yet we don’t take time to understand the perspective behind what’s driving their actions, but yet we want to make a statement about their actions versus truly understanding what’s behind their perspective. And I think as leaders, it’s so easy for us to just label or think certain ways without truly understanding their perspective and where they’re coming from. And so, I think inclusive leaders have got to think about this.
Perry Holley: Well, this day and time, it’s become almost the norm to state your truth and not consider others so… For me, every leader I know, I’m sure you’d say the same thing, they have a desire to really have a culture where everyone feels that they belong. I don’t know anybody that would say that they don’t want to be an inclusive leader. They don’t want anyone on the team to feel they need to cover… That’s a thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is if you are not this inclusive leader, then people feel the need to cover who they are, they need to cover some part of their identity. You can imagine right away, if I’m covering, I’m not contributing my full self to what’s going on. And by embracing, I think, these eight values that we just talked about, I think you’ll be on your way to leveraging that diverse team. And getting the inclusive behaviors will really help you leverage the great team that you have.
Chris Goede: That’s great. Man, good stuff. I love the fact that our listeners reaching out, sharing stories, asking additional questions, challenging us to come back, talk a little bit about the inclusive leadership again. And we’re grateful to be able to do that. So as I wrap up, let me just remind you, Perry wrote a great blog, it was actually a couple of weeks ago now if you’re listening to this, back on inclusive leadership. I’d encourage you to go and search for that, look for that, read that, digest that, learn from it.
The second thing I want to leave you with is, here’s my challenge for you today, I was thinking about this as we were talking about it, I want you to do a self assessment. I want you to write down eight line items that says this, “As a leader, I value…” and then each principal. So for example, the last one that I talked about was perspective of others over stating your truth. So, as a leader, I value perspective of others over stating my truth. And then I just want you to say yes or no. Do I do this? Do I live that out? Write it down on paper and really, truly think about that. And then answer that question authentically.
Now let me challenge you one step further with that. I would love for you to put those statements down and then pass the sheets of paper around on your team and have them write yes or no anonymously. And then get the paper back and see what those results say. I think it would be a powerful exercise for you to go through with your team.
My last comment for you is simply, John Maxwell has poured this into each one of us in this room. Jake’s here, Perry’s out here. This is what our DNA is when it comes to leading people and when it comes to inclusive leadership is. Make sure you believe in, make sure you value, and make sure you unconditionally love every single person that’s on your team. And when you do that, you will be leading inclusively.
Perry Holley: That’s the truth. All right. Great thoughts, Chris. Thank you. As a reminder, if you want to know more about the content, 5 Levels or 360, if you’d like to get the learner guide for this lesson, if you’d like to leave us a comment or a question, we always love hearing from you, you can do all that at johnmaxwellcompany.com/podcast. And if I haven’t mentioned it lately, let me tell you now, we’re grateful that you would spend this time with us each week. That’s all today from the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.
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