Dr. Susan Kuczmarski, Ed.D., Leadership Expert and Co-Author, “Lifting People Up: The Power of Recognition”
Inclusiveness is a key leadership skill. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was exceptional at being inclusive. All leaders can learn from Dr. King’s use of positive leadership and expressions of hope. Leaders who nurture inclusiveness among employees often experience significant long-term benefits to commitment and productivity too.
Inclusiveness means to accept and recognize people’s differences, relish their perspectives, and establish a “village” where people feel valued and trusted. You can’t begin to make people feel included if you don’t know them. Inclusiveness means finding ways to connect with people. A leader must learn to manage tasks and job responsibilities and find ways to help people at the same time. Here are five leadership qualities that offer hope and positive support:
1) Listen Deeply. We listened deeply when we were children. Unfortunately, when we become adults many of us stop hearing. We focus instead on talking about our own ideas and ourselves, all the while neither listening nor asking questions. We all need to jump-start our deep listening abilities and recover this lost skill. How do we renew and improve our deep listening? Ask other people questions! If you really practice dialogue, you hold your judgments aside and you listen to somebody else.
2) Use lots of specific and enthusiastic praise. The more detailed and descriptive the praise, the better. Most praise is too general, and because of this, doesn’t build self-esteem or motivate learning. Many people will simply say, “You look great” or “Good work” or “You did a terrific job on that presentation.” Their praise is generic; they’ve forgotten to add any specific information. Also, put a WOW in your voice and praise with enthusiasm. The difference in its impact will surprise you! Praise is not something given occasionally or on a part-time basis, but continuously, every chance you get. And don’t wait to extend your praise. Give it quickly or soon after it is due.
3) Reach out to another person. A little compassionate asking, listening and reaching out is sometimes all that’s really needed to create a feeling of belonging or community. Try to see other people’s perspectives and interests. Incorporate their traditions and ideas into the final mix.
4) Begin a legacy of giving and service now. A giving mindset says: let me try to make the world more beautiful. It can be as simple as walking an older colleague across a busy street, or helping a team member prepare for a speech—or as difficult as speaking one’s mind and conscience on a controversial topic, or spearheading a campaign to offer a regular breakfast and shelter to the homeless in one’s neighborhood.
5) Treat each other with kindness. Talk together—when the time is just right—about the importance of kindness and what it looks like. It can be as simple as “Hi!,” a smile, or “How are you feeling?” Look for ways to show kindness to others who may be especially needy—a friend, a neighbor, or sick or elderly person at work—then take a friend or village or team member along as you carry them out. Find the opportunity to talk to others: Is there anyone who needs a kind thought or act? How about the person who is “different”? How about the person who is difficult? Even if one doesn’t feel like being kind, there is value in doing it anyway—because the kind act itself can change the feeling that follows. Help others see that kindness can make all the difference in someone’s life, yet it’s so easy to do!
About the Author: Susan Kuczmarski, Ed.D., is the co-founder of Kuczmarski Innovation which provides thought leadership on innovation, culture, management and values. She is the author of 6 awarding-winning books, including 3 on leadership. Her just-released Lifting People Up: The Power of Recognition (co-authored with Tom Kuczmarski) shares techniques to cultivate and motivate people. Apples Are Square: Thinking Differently About Leadership describes six innovative leadership qualities. Her research, speaking, teaching and training workshops have made her a leading expert on leadership.