Succeed as an Inclusive Leader

Have you ever picked up a book that has a review that says “Do you want to become the Leader everyone wants to work with?” Sadly I have stopped counting the number of books that have made this promise and so I fully understand if readers initially think the same when they hear such claims. However, let me say this book also has been described as a “real philosopher’s stone” and a “unique approach” so maybe this is one of those times when it’s worth going beyond the hype and digging a little deeper.

The ancient Egyptians had fifty different words for sand. The Eskimos have a hundred words for snow. Team leaders on the other hand whether CEO’s or supervisors have only one word for organisational success. Its “motivation”. Success in whatever form you seek in your organisation is intrinsically linked and delivered through the efforts of your workforce. Consequently that means that the level of success you achieve correlates directly with the level of motivation you are able to create among your employees. So the question perpetually on the lips of every aspiring leader at some part of their waking day is how do I motivate my team? how do I motivate my organisation?

Thousands of books, conferences, seminars and now webinars parade out an almost unending offering of what they claim is the holy grail of organisational success. I have even myself presented my approach to this panacea to a number of conferences. And yet to date no definitive solution has emerged and no one concept has been grasped by mainstream commerce and industry. That’s until now.

“How to become an inclusive leader” by Thais Compoint has the potential to deliver a solution to the question of team motivation that delivers within its approach a convincing and authentic argument that proposes inclusivity as the key to success. This book will both embarrass and inspire any budding leader as it presents what can only be described as a blinding flash of the obvious to a global business community that has stared the solution in the face for so long yet never managed to grasp the significance or simplicity of the solution. Long before this book was even considered the business case for diversity was clear. However the hurdles of management mindset and workplace culture have conspired together to fog over the obviousness of the solution proposed here.

With our brains hardwired through evolution to see different as dangerous and strangers as a threat it’s no wonder we subdivide people into only two groups of friend or stranger and consequently create a natural bias in favour of those we include in our “friend group”. This book looks in depth at this, it considers the natural consequences of doing little more that the current level of effort and foresees a century of change being required to address even gender bias alone. Acknowledging the tendency for all to look to similar as meaning safe the book including the novely named Pygmalion effect which proposes that personal preference has a significant influence in all of our decision making, and uses some interesting examples, including your own funeral to ensure the points land well. I am sure we all have our own quirky stories of the strange idiosyncrasies of senior leaders we have interviewed with. I still recall from many years ago during the initial introduction of the UK Post Code system. Whilst sitting with the CEO and the COO on an interview panel for a senior management post within a high street Bank the CEO declared he disliked anyone who “showed off” by putting the postcode on their CV whilst the COO felt it was a very positive and proactive indicator.

This book engages the reader in a model of leadership that embraces fairness, empathy and pro-activity as a trio of key habits essential to positively drive forward the necessary influence and direction into the heart of organisations to ensure effective inclusion and diversity. It delivers a motivational journey that is as pragmatic as it is idealistic. In spite of revealing frightening statistics like only 28% of global executives believe their own management cadre are equipped and skilled with the capabilities to lead a global workforce this book is not pessimistic, instead it is constructed in a manner that takes you on a developing journey that reveals all in a manner that has you learning new approaches and relearning old lessons.

Constructed in two main parts, the first section (Part One) epitomises the essence of the book and makes no assumptions about level of knowledge or understanding the reader may have of the subject. Instead it takes you on a journey of understanding using the tried and tested model of what. why, how and when. With a range of real examples and illustrations each point is backed up with a graphical presentation of what it looks like in reality in the boardroom, office and shop floor.

As you navigate through the first half of the book your knowledge and appreciation of the benefits of inclusive leadership begin to evolve. In a very discrete way your inherent bias becomes more and more obvious to you leading to a weakening of your resolve allowing the writer to begin to offer up potential solutions and frameworks that could help you put these new ideas and approaches into action.

The most exciting aspect of this book is that it is designed to engage and develop the reader. Chapter after chapter includes within their structure two sections entitled “What you Need To Know” and “What You Need To Do” This twin aspect of the book sets it apart from other similar publications. This is so interesting you will find yourself anticipating the content and at times even sneaking a peek further into the book to see when they next appear.

Whilst I don’t want to spoil all of the surprises that are in store for the reader I can’t help but mention the self assessment tool provided. Nestled quietly at the end of part one of the book shrouded in the potential promise that you could become a UCIL (unconsciously competent inclusive leader) .there is a very thought provoking self assessment tool. The language alone within this tool implores you to be very honest in your responses. And as the outcome of the assessment tool is revealed you are asked to immediately create an action plan. Part one closes as it began with a challenge but not before taking time to thank every reader for reaching this point.

With Part One of the book complete and the outcome of the self assessment fresh in your mind part two of the book opens up the full spectrum of solutions required. With a subtitle of; Going to the next level; the second half of the book becomes a treasure trove of informed knowledge, real experience and practical solutions. It bounces between being a reference source and a handbook of guidance whilst continuing with the “What you Need To Know” and “What You Need To Do” sections of each chapter.

I won’t reveal any of the excellent suggestions and guides as this would only spoil your journey. Nor can I point to anything I found frustrating within the book. Even the constant reminder of the inclusive leadership mindset whilst very repetitive was always at a level that felt right. It would also not be appropriate to identify which aspects and suggestions I found most helpful. As the book explains each reader must take it step by step at their own pace.

The book concludes not unsurprisingly with a simple and small final chapter called conclusion. However don’t be mislead by its size. This final section of the book does not allow you to close it and put it back on the bookshelf. On the contrary, the conclusion is like an injection of adrenalin causing you to want to turn to the beginning of its chapters and start reading again. It also sends you off to the Web site for still further insight and guidance. I leave the final words to the author – “Dare to make it happen”.

Graham White, Retired HR Director

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