Wall Street Journal Bestseller
In this groundbreaking guide, a management expert outlines the transformative leadership skill of tomorrow—one that can make it possible to build truly diverse and inclusive teams which value employees’ need to belong while being themselves.
Humans have two basic desires: to stand out and to fit in. Companies respond by creating groups that tend to the extreme—where everyone fits in and no one stands out, or where everyone stands out and no one fits in. How do we find that happy medium where workers can demonstrate their individuality while also feeling they belong?
The answer, according to Stefanie Johnson, is to Inclusify. In this essential handbook, she explains what it means to Inclusify and how it can be used to strengthen any business. Inclusifying—unlike “diversifying” or “including”— implies a continuous, sustained effort towards helping diverse teams feel engaged, empowered, accepted, and valued. It’s no use having diversity if everyone feels like an outsider, she contends.
In her research, Johnson found common problems leaders exhibit which frustrate their attempts to create diverse and cohesive teams. Leaders that underestimated the importance of group coherence and dynamics often have employees who do not feel like they belong; leaders that ignore the benefits of listening to different perspectives leave some people feeling like they cannot be their authentic selves.
By contrast, leaders who Inclusify can forge strong relationships with their teams, inspire greater productivity from all of their workers, and create a more positive environment for everyone. Having a true range of different voices is good for the bottom line—it allows for the development of the best, most innovative, and creative solutions that are essential to success.
Inclusify reveals the unexpected ways that well-intentioned leaders undermine their teams, explains how to recognize the myths and misperceptions that drive these behaviors, and provides practical strategies to become an Inclusifyer. By learning why uniqueness and belonging are so imperative, leaders can better understand what makes their employees tick and find ways to encourage them to be themselves while ensuring they feel like they are fully part of the group. The result is a fully engaged team filled with diverse perspectives—the key to creating innovative and imaginative ideas that drive value.
Most companies that think they're encouraging diverse and inclusive practices are actually not, according to this disappointing treatise from Johnson, an associate management professor at the Leeds School of Business. She sees business leaders as still largely in thrall to the meritocracy myth, and as failing to take diverse backgrounds, experiences, and skills into account when hiring. To address this, Johnson urges organizations to focus on helping employees feel that they belong the power of this feeling, she argues, is universal, and key to success. She also helps readers learn how to break their own biases, starting with a shift from unconscious to conscious thinking, and how to develop and build solid teams. These efforts need to be incorporated into every single day, she says, and from this conviction comes the term "inclusifying," a "continuous, sustained effort toward helping diverse teams feel engaged, empowered, accepted, and valued." (Why this familiar idea requires a neologism worthy of Michael Scott is not explained.) Johnson's well-intentioned offering doesn't provide much new to employers wondering why their supposedly merit-based team is, once again, all white men.