Great Leaders Are Inclusive

In my years in the military, I’ve had friends who were members of elite fighting forces, like Navy Seals and...

In my years in the military, I’ve had friends who were members of elite fighting forces, like Navy Seals and Para-Rescue Jumpers. These small elite groups were ones that very few people could qualify to be a part of.

They had specialized skills and an incredible level of commitment to their specialties. Very few of us could keep up with them if we had to. The demands of their job required that only the most capable could be part of their group. I’ve known really great people who tried to join them, but just did not make the cut.

I’ve also known commanders of very large Air Force and Army units. Their organizations were made up of people at various levels of proficiency. They commanded organizations that were designed for almost everyone, not just for the elite. So their leadership style had to be quite different. They had to figure out the proper pace to move the organization so that everyone could keep up. The motto was often, “No man (or woman) left behind.” In my opinion, this is the greater of the two leadership challenges and requires a more people-savvy leader.


A Different Kind of Leadership

While some organizations require leadership of extremely talented specialists, most of our organizations require us to lead a variety of everyday people and grow their skills on the job. And most leaders must learn to bring everyone along with them (with the exception of an occasional person who just needs to be let go). They learn the art of moving at a pace where teams can stay together and everyone can keep up.

This style of leadership is called inclusive leadership. Here are a few ways these people lead:

1. Inclusive leaders consider how they can leverage their leadership to develop more leaders.

These great leaders help others reach their full potential and maximize their contribution to the organization. Besides just being a good way to treat people, it has very practical benefits.

2. Inclusive leaders build engagement and loyalty to the leader and to the organization.

Employee engagement and loyalty are proven to result in increased productivity and profitability. Our people want to be developed and grow in their capacity. That won’t happen if they’re left behind in our dust.

3. Inclusive leaders help retain their best employees and grow the organizations’ leadership bench.

This ends up giving others more options for promotions and succession planning. It also reduces the high cost of unnecessary employee turnover.

4. Inclusive leaders make a greater contribution to society by producing more leaders and a more capable workforce.

A stronger workforce is great for our economy and producing better leaders is good for marriages, families, communities and our country.

By becoming an inclusive leader we can improve our own capacity to set a challenging but reasonable pace for our organization. As we learn to train and coach our people, we will find their capacity also increases. Let’s motivate people to excel at what they bring to the table. Then we can celebrate and reward the accomplishment of clear, reasonable goals!


For discussion:

  • Are your people able to keep up with the demands of your organization?
  • Are they able to maintain healthy work habits while still being held accountable to meeting organizational goals?
  • Do you model a healthy pace for those you lead?


This is a guest post from our friend Jay Pullins. Jay lives in Anchorage, AK and is the founder and owner of Catapult Leadership Solutions.