Inclusive Leadership – Part 2

Inclusive Leadership – Part 2

Check out part one here!

The journey to becoming more inclusive is so rewarding on a personal level. There is personal joy and satisfaction as you see yourself grow and mature and this area is typically ripe for personal and professional growth.  

Today we are going to focus on actions that you can take as an individual and as a team to ensure that everyone feels valued and has a voice, feel valued, and want to stay around for a long time. 

Actions to take as an inclusive leader


It’s hard to have an inclusive team if you are an inclusive leader yourself. Even if you are that type of leader, your leadership will fall flat unless others see, feel, and understand it from you. Here are some personal actions to take as an inclusive leader. 

  • Seek out differences. Curiosity is a trait that many organizations look for in great leaders. It shows that they have a growth mindset and are unlikely to fall into a sense of arrival in their career. Curiosity also lowers overall risk across the leadership board. Get to know those that are on the edge of your network. Spend time with those that you interact with quite a bit, but don’t know so well. Look for the quiet ones in the room and take time to understand their perspective. Seek out individuals that are different that you to gain a larger worldview. 

  • Be present and tell your story. To lead a potentially large change, you need to be present in that change. You’ll gain more buy-in from those that you are looking to convince if they see that you are invested and involved yourself. Tell a compelling story and why it is important to you. Share the impact that your own personal journey has had on you and share the success stories of others (If they are ok with that) to help others see the vision. 

  • Understand your own inclusive shadow. Being an inclusive leader holds little value if you are the only one that thinks you are inclusive. Seek feedback from those that are different from you in their opinion. Do they see you as an advocate and supporter? Check-in with those that you trust and value as well. Doing this helps you find those blind spots that you have. It’s like you are both underestimating and overestimating different parts of how you lead yourself and others. 

  • Learn your impact. At the end of the day, what is your impact on others? Are you being emulated by others? Do you see some effort or behavior change that you didn’t see before? Are you being welcomed into more diverse groups that you were not previously a part of? Are people looking for your direction when it comes to inclusion? Seek a mentor or advisor on who to keep improving. 

Whether you are trying to change a small team or a very complex organization, you are more of an influence than you often give yourself credit for. Strengthen your own leadership skills in this area, so that you can lift others up. 

Actions to take as an inclusive team and organization


Thinking about your current state around inclusion may be daunting as you think about future possibilities. Start small. Here are some actions that you can take to help your people, team, and organization be more inclusive. 

  • Recognize that it is a journey, not a race. When you tackle inclusion, you are taking others through a journey where they likely will need to challenge their own biases and self-awareness. That’s a huge change in and of itself, without even considering the programmatic, and potential policy changes that need to be made. Keep at it and don’t get discouraged by early setbacks. 

  • Include the most impactful leaders. Many people automatically assume that the top leaders are the most impactful. They are in terms of strategy, but your middle managers are the ones that bring that strategy to life. Prioritize these leaders as you begin the journey. Include them in the process and leverage this group for advocates and early adopters. This will increase your likelihood of lasting change and accelerate your efforts toward your goal. 

  • Leverage data to tell your story. I absolutely love using data to tell the story of what the opportunity is and to celebrate the progress that has been made around an issue. Leaders can often rely on their perception or feelings when it comes to inclusion, “I feel like we are a pretty inclusive group and everyone is treated the same and welcome.” Dig in and gather data on the current state of the team. The data will often write the story itself around what the opportunities are. Be sure to listen to the show today for some examples of how to leverage data in a real way when storytelling. 

  • Pay attention to diverse associates and customers. Your diverse population has a higher likelihood of leaving the team when they don’t feel like they belong and are being heard. Tap into their life experience and their professional experience in the organization to understand what some of those nuanced and obvious points are that the group needs to work on. Also including them on the journey assures them that you aren’t simply paying lip service to change, but that you are truly invested in a new future together. 

Being a more inclusive leader has several benefits. You’ll be a more effective leader, the legacy you leave behind will be stronger and your company will be more relevant and profitable as a result. Take the steps today to help others become wildly successful in their roles. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Inclusive Leader – Part 1

Inclusive Leader – Part 1

I’ve had the honor to be a part of some really great life-changing projects, events, and situations in my career. When asked about my proudest moments as a leader the stories typically go down a road of inclusion and helping break barriers for others to succeed in new ways. I simply love helping others meet and exceed their own personal and professional expectations. 

Being inclusive not only accelerates your career, it also enhances your business and elevates others in the process.  Today, we’ll dive into a couple of different ways to think about inclusion, how to care for it, and some of the common traits that are found in these types of leaders. 

Inclusive leaders think about diversity in terms of demographics


The initial place that many people go to when they think about diversity is demographics. This can be a great starting point for a larger journey for you, your team, and your organization. 

From a forward-facing perspective, your team should mirror the customers and community that you are serving. Reflect on those two groups. Does your team look similar or do you have some work to do? I once had a leader that recognized the gap on their team but didn’t know how to fill it. They weren’t getting a diverse group of people coming in on their application process. My advice to them was to connect with that community of people and meet them where they are instead of expecting them just to show up at your door. Mix up your recruiting efforts; how you publicize an opening and change your approach. 

From an inward-facing perspective, look at the make-up of the team or organization. are there more women at the bottom of the chain and more men at the top? At what point does the dynamic flip? Run the same exercise from a cultural perspective. It can be an extremely eye-opening exercise that brings some strong data points as you begin to tell the story of the journey that needs to be taken. 

Inclusive leaders think about diversity in terms of inclusiveness


An inclusive leader knows that being fully inclusive is more than a photo-op, or just getting the right mix of people on board. It’s the power of diversity of thought that really pushes productivity, creativity, and retention rates forward. Companies that rate high in diversity of thought also lower their risk of turnover by 30% (Deloitte Study 2018).  

In order to foster, nurture, and grow an environment of inclusiveness, focus on these four things:

  1. Fairness and Respect: People need to know that they will be respected in their work and that their opinion matters. They also don’t want to see signs of favoritism in projects or teams. People want to feel like they have an equal chance to be wildly successful in their roles. 
  2. Feeling like they are valued and belong: Associates won’t stick around long if they don’t feel like they can be their true authentic self. It’s not good for them or for your team if they feel like they have to put on a face or hide who they are. They desire to showcase their unique self and feel a part of the larger team. 
  3. Safety: In order for your people to be their most innovative, vulnerable, and open they need to feel safe. They desire a sense that what they share will not be used against them, impact them in a negative way, and are supported to openly share. 
  4. Empowered to grow: Once they feel safe, and respected and they know that they are valued, helping them gain a true sense of empowerment and then supporting that empowerment into real action is the next step on the journey. 

Combining the sightline to demographics with the power of diversity of thought makes for a compelling team that will be highly effective and one that others will want to be a part of. 

Traits of an inclusive leader


All great inclusive leaders share some common traits among them. Here are some areas to think about as you work to become more inclusive. 

  • Curiosity: Curiosity in a leader is a great all-around trait to have because it ensures that they stay relevant as times change and have a personal and professional growth mindset. Curiosity leads an inclusive leader to seek out different ideas and experiences from others. 

  • Cultural Intelligence: This is an understanding that your worldview is not the same as others and the ability to seek other perspectives for a larger understanding. I recently saw this in action at a local government meeting where one group dismissed another’s concerns. They felt that since the subject at hand wasn’t offensive to them, then by default it shouldn’t be offensive to anyone else. It was an obvious show of a lack of cultural intelligence. 

  • Collaboration: This leader is aware of gaps in representation and is proactive to help fill those holes in meetings and projects. Are the right people at the table?

  • Commitment: Being an inclusive leader often requires a culture change, and that is something that takes time. These leaders are committed to a long-term vision, instead of seeing it as a check-the-box project that you move away from. 

  • Courage: Along with commitment comes courage. It will take courage to step in a call out a situation, the current landscape, or have a difficult conversation with a co-worker. 

  • Self-Awareness: We all have biases. Have the self-awareness to know what some of those are or where you have a tendency to let your guard down or go on auto-pilot is important to lower those blind spots. 

Self-evaluation time! On a scale of 1-5, how would you rank yourself in each one? (Some categories may be difficult to self-evaluate) Ask a close partner or advisor about how they would rank you in each category to get a good understanding of opportunities for your own personal growth. 

No matter where you are in your career or organization, you can become an inclusive leader and have a lasting impact on others. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

3 Common Leadership Mistakes

3 Common Leadership Mistakes

Another year is almost in the books! Hopefully, this week has been one where you’ve been able to take a little time for yourself as you gear up for a new year of both personal and professional growth. 

I always find the new year to be a great marker in which to set some of my own goals and evaluate how I did the past year. It keeps me on track to never waste a moment even during pandemic times.  Maybe you do the same (or should start setting some goals). Here are some common mistakes that leaders make that may help you form some ideas for goals for yourself and your team. 

Underestimating (or forgetting) the power of culture


Culture is everything. It dictates who you are, who you do the work that you do and it’s what makes you unique compared to your competitors. As obvious as that is, many leaders fail to link culture to strategy as they communicate to their team. Putting your culture and value top of mind certainly helps to keep it connected in communication. When I was a multi-state operations leader, I had all of my locations say the mission statement together before each shift. It felt odd at first, but it quickly got to the point where it felt weird not saying it at gatherings. 

Today in the healthcare field, I’m always looking for ways to naturally input our values into the conversation to draw in focus and alignment in what we do and how we accomplish our goals. 

Take the approach that works best for your team, just be sure to link your strategy back to your guiding principles so that your team understands why they are doing it and how they so go about accomplishing the goal. Drawing culture and strategy together makes it easier for your team to be successful and do their job well. 

Talking about an individual instead of talking to them


One of the common themes that I discuss with leaders, no matter their leadership level, is coaching. Leaders typically have no problem at all talking about their employees. Whether it’s by gossip or just trying to get something off their chest, they’ll openly share their frustrations and ideas on improvements with others. 

Good leaders muster up the managerial courage to have difficult conversations with others because, at the end of the day, that person needs the feedback that you have otherwise they will never improve. (Ep 322) 

It’s also important to instill that direct approach in your team as well in order to strengthen your culture and team dynamic. Just as you may want to go to others with your grievances, your people will want to come to you with theirs. Instead of acting as a constant intermediary, encourage your people to connect with each other directly with their concerns and feedback.  Doing so builds up trust within your team and frees your time up for other productive things. 

Overly depend on the physical


Culture (and leadership) can be misunderstood. When learning about a leader’s disposition towards servant leadership or the culture of their team, the person will often share about physical items. They are sharing the What instead of the How. 

What examples: Bringing in a food truck for lunch, creating a game room or ping pong table space, or hosting a potluck during the holidays. 

How examples: How you prioritize your time and people, stories of helping one another, going above and beyond for your customer, and how you show care while holding others accountable. 

You may look at that list and say, “Wait a minute. I’m a good leader and I do things like the What examples all the time for my people.” That’s great, but culture should hang on the what alone. Even a terrible boss can order in donuts every now and then. 

Having an authentic culture has everything to do with your interactions with others as you all do your daily work. Sometimes leaders lean in too hard on the rewards without investing in How people lead themselves and work with others. 

Failing to invest (Bonus tip!)


We’ve closed out every podcast for over seven years with the same catchphrase, “Invest in yourself to develop others”.  It’s important to continue to invest in both yourself and your team and your business to ensure culture and priorities stick. Often times leaders will throw a little bit of money at an idea, concept, or strategy and then call it good. Think of a diversity and inclusion strategy. A leader may see that it is important and then see some people to course and move on. That strategy is not likely to have a long-lasting impact on just one event. 

Think of how you invest in others and yourself as just that…..an investment. You’ve wouldn’t expect to retire from a one-time investment of $100. You add in a little bit each check through your career and then by the time you retire you have a nice little cushion on money waiting for you. You’ve got to keep that same intentionally as your push out new initiatives and priorities. Keep investing in communication, education, and connection for yourself and those you serve. 

All of our mistakes today hold a common theme of culture. Overcome these common mistakes that leaders make that impact their teams in ways that they may never truly fully realize. Lock into and invest in a strong culture to see your people thrive and your business goals increase. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Interview Responses that Fool No One

Interview Responses that Fool No One

I have been a part of some really bad interviews in my days, but I will say for the most part people want to put their best foot forward and show the best version of themselves when they are in the interview process. It’s part first impression, expertise, good storytelling/communication, and embodying the role to some degree. We talked before about ways to ace the interview (EP 113 & EP 217)

It’s fairly common for a hiring manager to run across someone who has a list of canned responses that they spew out on command. That’s exactly what an interviewer doesn’t want; they want to see your true authentic self in order to determine if you are qualified and a good fit for the role. That’s why some off-the-wall and downright crazy questions sometimes come up in interviews. They want to catch you off guard and see how you really react.  

Here are some common responses from candidates that fool no one during the interview. 

Making it all about you – the ego trap


According to a TopInterview survey, two of the most hated qualities during the interview process are dishonesty and a sense of entitlement (or arrogance).  it can be tempting to lean a little extra into your story and embellish the facts or overexaggerate your role in getting a team accomplishment. 

All the interviewer has to do is dig a little deeper with follow-up questions and your story can quickly fall apart and you now have lost a large amount of credibility with the other person. The interview may still go on, but you’re likely done in the interviewer’s mind. 

Instead of falling into the temptation to please your ego or overly impress the person, share what you actually did on the team or the accomplishment/project and what the impact was. What’s even better is if you also share what you learned during the process. What did you take away to make you even better for the next opportunity? This works much better than trying to dig yourself out of a self-created hole. 

Answer the question directly and authentically instead of dodging and redirecting to a different story that is all about you. Highlight your team and give them credit during your time with the person. 

“I get along with everyone”


More and more people are using behavioral interviewing as they assess new candidates. (It’s our recommended approach to hiring with companies that we have worked with). People want to understand how you work with others; how you address conflict, personality differences, and other interpersonal barriers that we all face on a regular basis. 

Have some stories and be ready to show how you dealt with customer issues, team issues, and conflict resolution. Responding to these types of questions with something along the lines of, “I get along with everyone,” sends off caution signals to the person interviewing you. They may see you as non-confrontational or lacking in self-awareness.

There is not a person on Earth that gets along with everyone! Think about the role you are applying for and potential personal situations that may come up in that position. Then recall back to your past experiences and try to draw some similarities in situations. (Does the job face a customer? Does it lead people?) Customer service is customer service regardless of industry. The same goes for leadership. How you lead people and handle conflict is universal across the board. 

Non-answers 


It’s a classic interview question: “What do you need to work on?” or “What are your weaknesses?” It’s also a question that gets the vaguest answers and non-answers. It’s an internal conflict, right? You want to shine during the interview and not give the person a reason to pass you over. Non-answers, easy-outs, and vague responses only frustrate the interviewer. It shows the other person either you aren’t being real or you lack self-awareness with your answer in a non-committed way. 

Instead of lying to yourself and others by saying you have nothing to work on, have a list of three things that you need to continue to work on and refine in your own life. If you share two with authenticity, you can ask if they want to hear more and they’ll typically stop you, thank you, and move on. On the other hand, if you are non-committal then you are opening yourself up to further exploration. 

Also, avoid trying to sneak in strength as a weakness, “I work too hard,” or “I’m too committed” These responses add no value to your time with the interviewer. 

“This is my dream job”


We are all in on finding your job. (Ep 228 – 231) Remember that your job might be your job for now as you progress in your career to your ultimate goal. Avoid going into every company interview telling them how this is your dream role, especially if it’s for an entry-level role. The interviewer will either dismiss the statement, think you are full of it, or that you don’t have aspirations to do more for yourself. 

Speak to the aspects of the job that you are looking forward to, and what you are hoping to learn and contribute in the role. This will come across more authentically. 

While it may not be your dream job, it may be your dream organization. Be mindful here. It’s absolutely appropriate to share why you connect with the organization and your desire to serve there, with the desire for a long career with them. It’s not in your best interest to share that you are looking to just get your foot in the door. The interviewer doesn’t want to have to fill the role again in 6 months as you try to job-hop inside the organization. 

Lean into our interview best practices and avoid these common interview mistakes that hurt more than help. You’ll have a great conversation that reflects well on you as a result. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Protect your people from themselves

Protect your people from themselves

Have you ever known someone who leaves a great opportunity only to flounder and as a result never bounces back to a level that they were before? Perhaps they are the type to jump headfirst into the newest financial fad without thinking through the implications. Maybe they are constantly job hopping instead of taking time to plan out a true career journey. 

There are times when we all could have benefitted from a person helping us see the larger picture before making a foolish or rash decision.  Here are some ways that you can help protect your people from themselves when they need it most. 

Keep a close connection when they are struggling


Sometimes it is quite easy to see when someone is struggling in their work or personal life. They act out, they may lower their level of care for themselves and others, or they may begin cutting themselves off from critical relationships among other signs. For others, the signs are much more subtle. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “I didn’t know that they were struggling or had an issue,” until it was too late. 

  • Find the right balance: Are you figuratively smothering the person or do you need to be even more present with them? It’s hard to tell at times, and the level of connection needed can change depending on what the root cause of the other person’s struggle is. Adding to the complexity is the fact that we all need different amounts of quiet and space to process. Some great activities that always help include – taking care of some of their daily tasks, helping them get a change of scenery, and providing them with extra support. Make sure that the person is open to the help first. 

  • Listen or problem-solve?: Being there for someone will typically fall into one of two categories: helping them problem-solve through the situation or simply being present and available for the person. A great strategy here, for both home and work, is to just ask the question, “Do you want me to help problem-solve, or do you need a good listener right now?” This gives the person an opportunity to share what their need is and a clear direction for you during the conversation.  

Fill in the blanks


A person may believe that they are making good decisions or acting in a way that props themselves up for success, or at a minimum, helps them move away from a situation that is not good for them. In reality, they may be unknowingly setting themselves up for failure.

Ever make a poor choice because you later learned that you were missing critical information? People have created irreversible harm to their relationships and careers because they were acting on skewed or incomplete information. 

  • Help your people see and understand the bigger picture. Speaking in anecdotes and what-ifs only can cause more confusion which leads to further disengagement down the path of a decision that can have unintended consequences on their career. 

  • There may be circumstances when you can’t share fully for a number of reasons. In this circumstance, let them know that you aren’t able to share any information at the current time, but give them a timeline of when you’ll follow up with them. Mark the time commitment in your calendar so that you don’t forget to re-engage on the topic. 

Give them a chance to share their struggles


Providing the person the psychologically safe space to openly share their struggles is important. There is a high likelihood that the person firmly believes that some of their needs are not being met by the team or organization. Give them a chance to express their frustration and share what their needs or aspirations are. What you learn here may give you an easy path to set things right. 

Give them a way back


Let’s say the person is a wonderful contribution to your team, but they end up moving on. Let them know that they will have a place on your team if they ever change their mind.  Over the years, I’ve spoken to several people who left an organization, only to return. Their loyalty and appreciation are nearly always higher as a result. Be sure to help them work through any embarrassment that they may feel as they re-onboard with the team. 

We should always want the best for those on our teams, and that sometimes means letting them move on to bigger and better things. In those times when a person may be making a hasty decision, move in to provide extra support to help prevent them from making a move that they will later regret. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH