What steps should can leaders take to build an inclusive culture at their company?

To build an inclusive culture at their company, leaders can take several steps that involve fostering open dialogue, exerting influence, setting behavioral norms, and championing cultural values. Here are the steps based on the insights provided by Ed Batista:

  1. Open Dialogue: Leaders should ensure an open dialogue where disagreements can be aired safely. This involves discussing the leader's expectations, employees' existing behavior, any gaps between the two, potential explanations for these gaps, the organization's goals, and how alternative behaviors may lead to successful outcomes. Open dialogue allows for resistance to be expressed and explored, which is crucial for moving beyond mere compliance towards genuine commitment. ([Compliance vs. Commitment (On Behavior Change)][6])

  2. Exerting Influence: Leaders should distinguish between influence and coercion. Influence respects individuals' right to choose and involves winning them over through time and effort, while coercion relies on threats and rewards to enforce behavior. A leader should make the consequences of not meeting expectations clear from the outset, allowing people to make informed choices. ([Compliance vs. Commitment (On Behavior Change)][7])

  3. Behavioral Norms: Leaders should aim to have their expectations become behavioral norms within the organization. Committed employees have internalized these expectations as their own, often because they had the opportunity to influence the leader as well. ([Compliance vs. Commitment (On Behavior Change)][8])

  4. Strategic People Leadership: Leaders should consider the role of a strategic People Leader who can act as a consigliere to the CEO, a data maven to interpret engagement and performance data, a culture champion to uphold organizational norms and values, and a team coach to facilitate better team dynamics. ([The Truly Strategic People Leader][1])

  5. Culture Champion: Leaders, especially People Leaders, must adhere to the organization's cultural norms and values and be seen doing so. They should champion productive behavior and hold themselves to high standards, responding non-defensively to feedback and learning from missteps. ([The Truly Strategic People Leader][2])

  6. Team Dynamics: Leaders have tools at their disposal to influence team culture. They should involve the team in decisions about meeting cadences, settings, and purposes, and consider regular one-on-ones to discuss and align on cultural expectations. ([Group Dynamics: The Leader's Toolkit][1])

  7. Addressing Divisive Topics: Leaders should create a psychologically safe environment where candid and direct communication is encouraged, and where formal programs do not enforce a single point of view but rather foster a commitment to understanding diverse perspectives. ([Talking with Colleagues About Divisive Topics][3])

  8. Empathy: Leaders should promote empathy within the organization, which involves understanding others' perspectives and feelings, suspending judgment, and communicating that understanding. Empathy does not imply agreement but is essential for a truly inclusive culture. ([Talking with Colleagues About Divisive Topics][5])

By taking these steps, leaders can build an inclusive culture that values open dialogue, personal agency, and a shared commitment to the organization's goals and values.