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Business Innovation Through Inclusive Leadership

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As a business leader, what are you doing to change the way your company operates?  Have you asked yourself whether or not your company culture is open, flexible, and innovative enough to flourish in the competitive marketplace of both today and tomorrow? One of the most reliable ways you can equip your business for success is by applying the principles of inclusive leadership into every business decision you make.    

The world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and the economy continues to be heavily influenced by globalization.  Today more than ever, firms must be capable of doing business on a cross-national and cross-cultural basis.  

Companies must be nimble and innovative, and management must dedicate sufficient resources to building relationships and developing talent. To adjust to these changes, managers and business owners must rethink their organizational structures.  They must develop flatter, less hierarchical company cultures that encourage teams of talented individuals to communicate openly and work toward common objectives. Company cultures must become inclusive.       

Through inclusive leadership, you can encourage a culture within your company that simultaneously values both individual identity and team cohesion. By doing so, you can promote greater flexibility, creativity, and communication, all of which are key factors to business success in the 21st century.  Companies that fail to break down structural barriers may find themselves on the losing side of both business and history.      

Balancing Individual Identity and Team Cohesion

Individual identity is what allows talented members of your team to stand out from the crowd.  It's what lets your A-players be recognized and feel valued for their unique skills and talents while encouraging them to strive for greater success.  Without individual identity, innovation in the workplace would stagnate, limiting the potential of your business.

Team cohesion fosters a sense of belongingness among your employees by making them feel as though they are a part of something greater than themselves, working toward common objectives.  When employees feel accepted, regardless of their differences, they are more inclined to share and collaborate with one another.  Without team cohesion, your staff would exist in silos, consequently stifling communication and severely limiting innovation.

Being an inclusive leader means creating a company culture that values both individuality and teamwork. It is a business mindset that emphasizes the uniqueness of every employee, while also promoting a sense of belongingness among team members. When they strike the right balance, inclusive leaders radically boost productivity, encourage stronger performance, and inspire their staff to strive for success.

The "next big thing" is born from the blending of ideas from multiple sources.  Sometimes these ideas can seem completely unrelated, but a single instance of inclusive interaction can create that "aha!" moment that connects the dots and leads to astonishing breakthroughs. The original iPhone, for example, was built using technology that was already well established, but it took the blending of these technologies to bring us Apple's revolutionary smartphone. These are the types of moments you want to encourage as a business leader.

As a supervisor, administrator, or business owner, your primary focus should be on creating a workplace where everyone is valued.  You must learn to cultivate a business environment that respects and appreciates the uniqueness of employees, while also strengthening an organizational sense of belongingness where all voices are heard.    

Achieving Inclusiveness

According to Catalyst, a nonprofit organization focused on accelerating the progress of women in business, inclusiveness is best accomplished through the framework of EACH -- Empowerment, Accountability, Courage, and Humility [1]. Here's how it breaks down:

  1. .   Empower your employees to develop and grow by giving them the ability to take on new responsibilities and challenge the status quo.
  2. .   Hold both your employees and yourself to account by making clear that everyone is responsible for their individual performance, as well as the performance of the team as a whole.
  3. .   Have the courage to take risks.
  4. .   Be humble enough to admit your mistakes.

Establishing an inclusive culture is not always easy. Old structures and systems often serve as barriers to new, more versatile practices.  However, if you have the vision and courage to be an inclusive leader, you can set your company on a course toward greatness.  The old, rigid ways of doing business are quickly fading away, as smaller, nimbler firms replace long-established behemoths. The future is looking to be much more open and inclusive. What will your future look like?

One way that, an industry-leading marketing company, maintains its inclusive culture is giving back to its community. gives back by offering a scholarship to a student dedicated to improving their community. The scholarship gives $1,000 to a student attending college in the fall who promotes community improvement.

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