Inclusion , Impact , and Investment !!!
The Inclusive Leader
by Yolanda D . Jackson ( Johnson )
e have all heard it before : leadership is not about title or position . I agree wholeheartedly . I think leadership is about influence and how you utilize that influence to impact the world around you daily . What does the world around you look like ? Does everyone look like you ? Does everyone think like you ? Are you seeking out opportunities to learn new things and new approaches ?
A good leader accepts and respects differences while being sensitive to varying cultures . But great leaders do not just accept difference ; they welcome it . They seek it out . They welcome diversity of thought , age , culture , race , socio-economic status , or even religion . Great leaders recognize that they thrive amid a multi-faceted , multi-cultural environment .
We are often most comfortable in spaces where everyone looks like us or thinks like us . While we should always take every opportunity to celebrate with those who share our experiences , we also want to explore spaces and relationships that will expand our capacity for influence . Whenever I am approaching something challenging or something that I have not done before , I often ask myself , “ what is it that I do not know ?” I intentionally seek out people who may have expertise or knowledge that I do not have . This requires a balanced dichotomy of humility and confidence at the same time . I consider myself a leader . I should know it all , right ? Wrong !
Leaders must be confident enough to understand that the true power of leadership and influence lies in the diversity of those they are connected to . This is not a transactional or tokenism relationship . These relationships develop meaning , influence , and impact together , meaning everyone must be respected and valued despite their title or position .
I once read a story about a franchise owner whose customers began asking for a new dessert . The franchise owner approached a small group of corporate executives who took the time to listen to his idea and let him try it . The Chick-Fil-A milkshake now speaks for itself . The corporate executives could have dismissed the franchise owner as not knowledgeable or able to make decisions because of his title . If they had dismissed his idea , the corporation would have missed out on millions of dollars . This story is an example of a large-scale effort influenced by one person whose voice was valued and included .
Perhaps you are looking to impact your community , build power to give back , influence others to create change , make a career change , or grow personally . Do you have an infinite amount of people connected to you with unique characteristics and experiences ? Do you welcome the ideas and thoughts of people from different backgrounds and experiences ?
Inclusive leaders leverage diversity to develop personally ; explore different cultures ; learn how to improve and create meaningful impact . n
88 IBA Success Magazine n VOL 7 , Issue 2