Whether you’re trying to reach a personal goal or make your organization more successful, if you can set clear outcomes and embody their fulfillment… BAM. You’re gonna be successful.
This concept applies to inclusion, as well; when inclusiveness is the desired outcome, a good leader will pursue it and inspire the same in others. It doesn’t have to be brain surgery. D&I doesn’t’ have to be a chore or a task – a successful mindset doesn’t include thoughts and actions that create discriniation problems, and already has notions of maximization and inclusion.
Leadership is the art or process of influencing people.
There have been notable leaders throughout history; some of whom have nothing in common OTHER THAN their amazing abilities to influence people. Hitler, Gandhi, FDR—they were all active during [roughly] the same period in time and had massive influence, albeit in pursuit of very different ends. The same goes for JFK, Nelson Mandela, and Napoleon.
While those leaders had very few commonalities, the characteristics they shared are significant. There is so much to gain in the search for what they, who appear to be so different, have in common. And the big lessons we can take from their commonality—being immensely effective—can help achieve other goals.
If you were to ask someone with an MBA, they might explain leadership in management terms: The purpose of management is to plan, direct, organize and ensure the success of a business at various levels through a number of methods including customer satisfaction and employee training. Management, normally made of a manager and their assistants, is key to running an organization on what could be considered microscopic levels.
A student of religion might point to what religious figures share. Moses’s life provided moral and ethical underpinnings that would constitute the next thousand years of Jewish thought. Zarathustra understood the cosmic war—that man had been given the power to choose between good and evil—and chose to seek the light. Siddhartha Gautama, also known as the Buddha, achieved the ultimate peace.
We know that the religious stories are all different, but one trend persists across the figures:
Complete dedication to their ideal.
From the business world to the spiritual world, people who achieve greatness share these characteristics. No matter the differences in their ends, no matter what others were doing, they were dedicated to being successful in the direction of their goals. Their similarities are their great accomplishments, which hold the key to emulating their leadership.
Successful leadership boils down to two key steps:
- Deciding the Goal
- Embodying Its Accomplishment
That might be the most simple way to put it! First, choose what you want to happen. Then, live in such a way that it will happen.
So… how does this apply to inclusion?
Say a company has a non-discrimination policy. Store managers would provide transparent leadership about not discriminating. They could do so by refraining from saying disparaging things about others, as well as clearly defining their objectives as a store and explaining to employees how they each fit into the grand scheme of the store’s success. This would demonstrate to employees how to appreciate others for their contribution to the store, regardless of their differences that may matter outside the store or in other contexts.
Everything should be directed to company success. That, in a business sense, would be the same as Heaven for Christians. It is the end result that influences all behavior.
The leader – whether that’s Jesus or Mary T. Barra or Chris, the night manager of the 7Eleven down the street – defines the goal, provides an example of its achievement, then gets her or his “followers” focused on it.
Because, that’s the thing about greatness: it’s physical manifestations are all different, but the nature of it and the characters of the people who achieve it are similar. You don’t have to look any certain way to have the type of spirit that touches other human spirits.
Through their actions, good leaders will set an example of what it means to be inclusive. They will influence others to act similarly. By bringing people into the fold, including others, they will increase the reach of their inclusive actions.