“Radical Inclusion” means including – or at least listening and being civil to — those who disagree with us. That’s my next frontier.
Tolerance beats intolerance, but it is merely “putting up with.” We must move to valuing and appreciating difference – not tolerating it.
Rich and I delivered a well-received workshop at the third annual WILD Summit (Women Inspiring Leadership Development from the Women’s Council of the Leeds School of Business at CU). We framed as choice (the conference theme) the ability to value and leverage both masculine and feminine strengths. We demonstrated that being able to choose which is most effective in a particular situation is an important career skill. Appreciating both approaches makes one a better and more inclusive leader; the result is broader team engagement, leading to better results. We tackled the subject of how masculine-feminine differences run up against unconscious biases or mindsets, creating obstacles for women in business – and, therefore, gender diversity.
I need to take my own advice. My mission is to make gender diversity in business leadership a reality. Doing that requires creating inclusive workplace cultures that value both masculine and feminine ways of working and leading. Since more women than men demonstrate feminine styles, women will benefit from such a culture. Valuing both makes individuals more effective, creates greater inclusion and engagement and lowers obstacles to gender diversity. As a former attorney and corporate executive, I demonstrate many masculine strengths. I am working on honoring the feminine aspects of myself!
My difference (gender) from the norm at the top of my corporation made me sensitive to diversity issues. In participating in diversity programs and training, I saw how much energy goes into trying to fit in. That lost energy costs creativity and quality. In an inclusive culture, where people feel heard and valued, engagement is higher. Inclusion and engagement drive productivity, innovation and results.
In her book Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg points to internal barriers that hold women back. Many are just “feminine” ways. Women are wired and acculturated to value relationships more than status and to avoid bragging. This looks like lower ambition. Women tend to speak more humbly; this looks like lower confidence. I agree that, to make it to the top, women must demonstrate ambition and confidence. But my hope is that one day leaders will understand and appreciate feminine as well as masculine style and see leadership in both.