Inclusify: The Power of Uniqueness and Belonging to Build Innovative Teams
Stefanie K. Johnson
HarperBusiness (June 2020)
Why the efforts of many (most? leaders fail despite good intentions
Stefanie K. Johnson conducted wide and deep research that she correlated with her wide and deep experience in the business world. She concluded that the best leaders have two skills in common:
“First, they embrace different perspectives and backgrounds. Second, they fit all the unique pieces together to create a cohesive, interdependent team with a shared purpose. Together, this set of behaviors enables people to do what I call Inclusify. Unlike ‘diversifying’ or ‘including,’ Inclusifying implies a continuous, sustained effort toward helping diverse teams feel engaged, empowered, accepted and valued. And although few people are born Inclusifyers, there are specific steps that leaders can take to become one.”
Personally, I prefer “integrator” to “inclusifyer” but either will do when describing a process that not only attracts but welcomes, engages, encourages, recognizes, and rewards people who have different values, talents, perspectives, and experiences…all of which bring value to the given workforce.
For example, the conductor and members of a symphony orchestra. I like Saint Paul’s discussion of “many parts, one body” in one of his first letters to the Corinthians. With regard to diversity and productivity, I like Warren Buffett’s observation that nine pregnant women cannot produce a baby in only one month.
I agree with Johnson that uniqueness can have substantial power of great benefit to any human enterprise. I also agree with Margaret Mead: “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”
Over a period of 30 years as an independent consultant, I worked with the owner/CEOs of hundreds of small companies as well as with senior-level executives and middle managers in dozens of Fortune 500 companies. However different those organizations may be in terms of size and nature, all of them were led by people who admired and rewarded personal growth and professional development.
There is an abundance of valuable information, insights, and counsel in this book. However, it would be a fool’s errand to attempt to act upon all of the suggestions and recommendations. Each reader must determine which of the material is most relevant to their organization’s immediate and imminent needs, strengths, vulnerabilities, resources, and strategic objectives.
The “secret sauce” of every healthy organization is found in the workplace culture that Stephanie Johnson has in mind, people at all levels who “live and lead in a way that recognizes and celebrates unique and dissenting perspectives while creating a collaborative and open-minded environment where everyone feels they truly belong.”