Diversity and Inclusion – What’s A Leader To Do?

Solving the issue of diversity doesn’t guarantee an inclusive culture. Diversity is about whom you hire, but inclusiveness is about a work environment of trust and involvement.


Clarity of Diversity versus Inclusion

We’ve written about diversity and workplace inclusiveness in the past; since studies reflect that more clarity between the two is needed, we decided to provide additional context.

When you hear the word “diversity”, what comes to mind? Per the Bing dictionary, it can mean a “variety of something such as opinion, color, or style”, it can be “ethnic variety, as well as socioeconomic and gender variety, in a group, society, or institution”, and it can be “a discrepancy, or a difference from what is normal or expected“.

A diverse workplace must have variety. This simply means a variety of styles, behaviors, preferences, recruiting and interviewing techniques, along with addressing unique development needs for all levels across entire organizations. The work culture does not exclude differences, rather it embraces a blend of races/ethnic backgrounds, a range of ages, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc.  


We also believe it includes knowledge, acceptance, and awareness. How accepting are you of differences? Would you consider yourself and your organization to be diverse?

Before you answer, think about what comes to mind when topics related to diversity and differences surface. Do you think about race, culture, age, gender, sexual orientation and disabilities?

Do you also think about accents, education, physical size, spiritual orientation, and political preferences?

Differences are limitless. What’s key is our awareness and respect for how these differences strengthens our team, our organization, and our world.

We all have biases and filters. What we suggest is taking the time to examine our biases and recognize the impacts differences have on attitudes and actions with the ultimate goal to appreciate and utilize what’s different.

Studies show that diversity enhances learning; we grow our mindset when we listen, process, and understand differences (and learn our way isn’t the only way!)


Have you heard that a new C-Suite role has been added to many companies?  It’s called the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) and it’s reported that 60% of Fortune 500 companies have a CDO.

The role of Chief Diversity Officer has been defined as being “responsible for creating, managing, and optimizing their work culture to be an equitable and fair environment for all employees”.  What leader wouldn’t want to optimize their work culture?


Inclusion is different from diversity.  With inclusion employees feel that they matter to both leadership and their teammates, they want to be heard and they want to be acknowledged for the value they provide. They want to be able to utilize and leverage their strengths (we call it Magic Dust®) and have career growth opportunities. As a result, when there is a sense of inclusion employees are more fully engaged and less likely to leave and go to another company.

Think about Gallup’s quote “Diversity is about whom you hire, but inclusiveness is about a work environment of trust and involvement.”  Have you heard us say “hire hard or manage hard”?  This is one piece of creating the type of work culture where everyone can grow and flourish. New hires have to be a good fit for your team; consider experience, skill-set, attitude, commitments, accountability and collaboration.

If afforded the opportunity, it also helps to have a well-balanced team based on assessment results. Consider Myers-Briggs (MBTI) types, DiSC workplace styles, team roles, and communication styles. Leveraging individual strengths from team members not only helps achieve desired results, it also reduces attrition and increases satisfaction levels.

Have you observed a variety of leadership skills, traits and behaviors within your organization? Do you relate equally to all styles? Do you find all of them effective? Chances are “no”.

What Can Leader’s Do?

As leaders, investing the time and energy to hire the right person(s) for your team will save you time.  Either you expend the time on the front end, or you’ll be spending time on the back end for managing issues that will likely arise when team members are not a good fit.

It’s also advantageous to view our staff as people, not just as an employee or consultant. There’s a constant need to keep people engaged, and for team members to have a sense of belonging.  Gallup reports that 33 percent of American workers are engaged at work, 52 percent claim they just show up, and 17 percent say they are actively disengaged. That plays into the role of inclusiveness; being understood, valued, and cared about.

As a leader we can influence these numbers. What are you doing to learn more about your team members and help the team learn more about one another? Don’t neglect getting to know your team on a personal basis, it makes a difference!

Retaining talent is a challenge; as leaders we have opportunities to create a work culture that is both diverse and inclusive.  How successful are you? Do you have a CDO (or someone that fills that role), and does your business strategy include diversity and inclusion?

What can YOU change to reap the benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workplace?

Practicing Mindfulness

Mindfulness: a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
–Oxford Languages
Would you say you’re self-aware? That you recognize when your stress level may be growing or that your boundaries have become blurred or disregarded?

Leadership is not easy. We focus our time and energy on our staff, our budgets, driving results, and hopefully some time on our personal lives, but what about us as individuals?

Do we commit sufficient time to reenergize and be truly mindful? Are we aware of not only our surroundings but also of our feelings, and that we ensure our actions are intentional?

Mindful Leaders are focused, make impactful decisions, have clearly defined and documented vision, mission and goal statements (and share them with their teams). They also build strong relationships with others (ie. direct reports, colleagues, clients, etc), and they truly care about people.

It’s so easy to lose focus on the present when we re-live what has happened in the past and are quick to jump to next steps. We need to take the time to process what’s currently happening without being distracted and judgmental.

Karen Young provides suggestions for controlling our “wandering” minds!  Excerpts include:

  • Be consistent and practice mindfulness daily. There are apps that can help, and she suggests Smiling Mind

  • Practice your breathing
  • Pay attention to your body, emotions, and senses

  • Be aware of your cravings and urges

  • Slow down and be patient

Too often our daily pace does not allow us sufficient time to pause and self-reflect which impacts our effectiveness levels. It’s been reported that mindfulness helps relieve stress, lowers blood pressure, improves sleep, and in general makes us healthier.

Leadership muscle includes making the time to practice mindfulness; take the time to invest in yourself!


Mike and Jan

If you are new to mindfulness,
it’s important to be patient and kind with yourself.
–Karen Young

Why is it important to be a good leader in this time?

Why is it important to be a good leader during this time? Because quality leadership endures beyond the time you have. 

My husband had the privilege of playing football under the leadership of legendary Coach Bobby Bowden. Twenty years after graduating from college, people still ask him what it was like to be coached by the best. Despite grueling 6 am mat drills and two-a-days in the August humidity, football was the best experience and is the fondest memory. Coach Bowden created a culture of excellence by valuing people. He found success on the field because he cared for his players off the field. 

His secret was endearing moms to himself. He sat in living rooms across the country and worked harder to recruit mamas than he did athletes. Bobby knew the influence moms had, so he went straight to the source. When their sons would inevitably play for Florida State, his charismatic personality made every mom believe she was his favorite.

Once at Florida State, these young men discovered why it is important to be a good leader during his time. Coach Bowden coached with integrity and valued character. Every year, he made the entire team visit a church where most members were white and a church where most members were people of color to bridge the racial divide and show how we all have equal value. He won more football games in his career than most coaches will ever dream of, so he pushed his athletes to be competitors and win. Yet, he knew true success came from winning off the field. 

Coach Bowden is universally beloved, except by University of Florida fans, I imagine. His unassuming demeanor and welcoming spirit made people love him. He loved his wife well and was an incredible family man even with a crazy schedule. He is one of those rare men who make it all look so easy. 

Coaching thousands of men throughout his career, coming from various backgrounds and situations, is no easy task, of course. He made every player feel important and like they were the only person who mattered when he spoke to them. 

He made every player feel important and like they were the only person who mattered when he spoke to them.

My husband loved playing under Bobby’s leadership because he created a culture of high expectation and high value. People continued to matter the most to him. Sure, winning championships and collecting rings and trophies make him a legend. But his legendary coaching is defined by being a good leader during his time when other coaches caused scandals with poor decisions. 

As the head coach of Florida State University, Coach Bowden only had one losing season: his first one. My dad was actually a student at Florida State right before Bowden came, and he has the most hilarious stories of how terrible that team was. Bobby took over a renegade group of young men and turned the program into one of the most successful to ever play the game. He is the first coach to take a team wire-to-wire to the National Championship, meaning the Seminoles were ranked #1 to begin the season, never dropped out of that top ranking, and won the National Championship that year against Virginia Tech. My husband happened to play on that team, and it remains one of the coolest moments of his life. 

To know Bobby is to love Bobby. Even outside of the football program, students adored him. He would speak at events and endear himself to everyone. No one could resist his southern charm and humble attitude. 

Of course Coach Bowden goes down in history as one of the best to ever coach the game of football, but he goes down in history as one of the most beloved coaches to ever do it. He passed on his coaching style, and many of his former players are continuing his legacy by coaching young people across the country.

Bobby: A Good Leader 

It remains so important to be a good leader during this time that many former Seminoles invest in the next generation by coaching Pop Warner teams, high school teams, and beyond. Coach Bowden’s influence is passed down as they lead with humility and value people above the game. 

My husband took his high school football team to a National Championship this year and won. He enjoyed watching his high school team win more than winning a collegiate one himself because he has learned that quality coaching elevates others above yourself. Coach Bowden taught that well. 

It was a great privilege to play under Coach Bowden. His impact will far outlive him because he knew what mattered most and cared for people well. He made mamas feel like the most valuable people in the stadium and kept true to his promise to take care of their precious boys. 

Bobby sadly passed away last year, after a long, well lived life. His funeral was held at a huge civic center because of the amount of people he impacted during his lifetime. Athletes, their families, alumni, students, and of course his family all filled the seats of a massive auditorium to pay their respects to a man who earned their respect.

His leadership, coaching style, southern accent, and impact continues to live on through the thousands of young men he coached and the many more fans who cheer on the Seminoles. They are proud of the culture he created.  No wonder people ask about him decades later. His leadership went above and beyond, and he will forever be remembered as someone who was a good leader during his time.

Team Roles

Without teamwork, there is no way that the company is going to experience success. In teams, individuals will work together and accomplish a lot more that what they do by themselves.
– Michael Welton (Writer)
Do you agree that teams are only as strong as their members, and that leaders must understand and leverage the value each teammate provides?

Having a team with a diverse set of skills and talents and differing styles and preferences lends itself to accomplishing more. As leaders it’s up to us to understand this and position our teams to succeed.

We have been introduced to a new team tool from PeopleCatalyst that assesses individual style preferences regarding the nature of work roles, skills, talents, and contributions.

The four major team roles are called Shaker, Mover, Prover, and Maker, with one additional and uncommon role of Oner. Below you will find high level descriptions of each role.

1. Shakers are early adopters and are natural thinkers. They like to shake things up with new ideas and easily solve problems by seeing the larger context of a situation. Some of their ideas may seem outlandish, but many are potential home runs. Shakers are the “Power” button on a remote control.

2. Movers are early adopters and are natural doers. They know how to get and keep things moving. These people easily plan how things will get done, choose the best idea, and introduce the right people to each other. Movers are “fast forward” on a remote control.

3. Provers are later adopters and are natural thinkers. Often seen as skeptics by others, they challenge new ideas. Comfortable with proven solutions, these people feel like it’s their duty to warn others about what can go wrong. Provers like to “Rewind” things and go through them again to refine or correct any issues or flaws.

4. Makers are later adopters and are natural doers. As great finishers, they put ideas into action, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. Makers honor the details that others miss and would rather do “real” work than sit in meetings. Makers are the “Play” button.

5. Oners are balanced and flexible with the natural ability to act as a Shaker, Mover, Prover or Maker based on the needs.
Note1: It is called this as PeopleCatalyst found that only 1% of the population fit this role.
Note2: It’s not uncommon for a person to be a blend of two styles.

High functioning teams consist of all 4 roles, and if you’re fortunate, also include a “oner”.  Is your team, or are you a member of a team, that lacks any of these roles? 

When you‘re hiring a new team member give thought to where your team may have gaps in team roles and remember that differing styles add value and contribute to achieving success.


Mike and Jan

None of us is as smart as all of us.
– Ken Blanchard

Universal Leadership Behaviors

Leadership, in its simplest form, means the act of getting individuals aligned and moving in the same direction toward a desired outcome.—Gallup/Clifton Strengths
Leadership has many definitions and we’ve shared them over the years. One of our more basic definitions is: Taking others where they’ve never gone before and wouldn’t go by themselves. This covers a lot of territory.  Examples include goal attainment, career development, self-awareness, coaching, team synergy, and the list goes on and on.

Gallup, famous for their polling, completed one of their largest studies where over 14,000,000 employees, 2,000 organizations, and 559 job studies provided input for identifying what they viewed as the most essential competencies required for successful leaders. The results:

  1. Build relationships
  2. Develop people
  3. Lead change
  4. Inspire others
  5. Think critically
  6. Communicate clearly
  7. Create accountability

We feel we can’t omit TRUST as an essential competency for leaders. Leaders that are trusted, are viewed as having high levels of integrity, and are considered authentic, make teams thrive and more readily achieve desired goals.

Lines of communication are open, individual and team confidences grow, and there’s a willingness for innovative thinking and taking risks without the fear of repercussions.

Effective leaders build a culture where accountability and responsibility are the “norm”. There’s no fear of bad reviews, demotions, or embarrassment, and feedback sessions are actually looked forward to!  They know that their leader will be respectful and honoring while delivering feedback, that the leader truly wants team members and the team to grow and succeed, and that they want to help each individual establish a career path and create and track their progress.

Claremont Graduate University Professor Paul Zak wrote that people in high trust workplaces compared to low-trust workplaces experienced the following:

  • 74% less stress
  • 106% more energy at work
  • 50% higher productivity
  • 13% fewer sick days
  • 76% more engagement
  • 29% more satisfaction with their lives
  • 40% less burnout

This is definitely aligned with Patrick Lencioni’s Five Behaviors Of A Cohesive Team model where trust is the foundation for success. Regardless of how many leadership competencies one possesses, without trust a leader’s skills and abilities will always be limited.  Any disagreement?


Mike and Jan

Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.
—Warren Bennis

How To Get Leadership Experience

Every single person is a leader in some capacity. Not everyone views themselves as such, but it remains true. When I left the workforce to stay home with my children, I did not view myself as a leader. However, I led my children. I led a mom’s group. I initiated friendships. No one gave me the title of CEO, but I ran my home (I still do!). In turn, my oldest son led his younger siblings and showed leadership skills in sports at a young age. Everyone is a leader.

Becoming an experienced leader is a different story. As a young mom leading a group, I made more mistakes than I can recount. I loved serving, but I did not love how often I messed up. I would be embarrassed at planning meetings when I forgot to discuss an important topic. I mishandled relationships with difficult people. There were a lot of lessons learned the hard way. 

But that leadership experience allowed me to grow and develop into who I am today. I still make mistakes, though hopefully far less. I still mishandle relationships, though I think with more understanding. I have not arrived, yet early experience and lots of mistakes allowed me to become a stronger leader. 

The best way to gain leadership experience is to lead. Lead in small ways. For me, that has been wrangling five children and teaching them how to grow into healthy adults. It has also meant volunteering in many different capacities. Sometimes it’s an area I am naturally good at. Other times, I fill a need because no one else will. You can also lead in big ways. I re-entered the workforce and now work for PeopleTek. I am proud of the work we do to develop leaders around the world. 

It’s been said that if you’re faithful in small things, you’ll be faithful in big things. Growing as a leader when it wasn’t my strength and did not even feel like I was even leading anyone has allowed me to become a leader who is confident and gracious towards others in their journey. 

The same will be said of you. You might be the CEO of a major corporation, or you might just be starting your career. You are still a leader. There is no telling where you will go and what you will become. Invest in your growth now, so that when that promotion comes or that opportunity is too good to pass up, you will be ready. Gain leadership experience today, whether you’re leading thousands or one. 

There is a proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is today.” Don’t wait until you have the title of a leader. You are already a leader. 

Here are 5 tips to getting leadership experience:

  1. Follow smart leaders on social media. Utilize your scroll time well by engaging with leaders worth following. Their wisdom and experience can offer you a lot of valuable insight into leadership.
  2. Watch TED talks, read great books, listen to podcasts, etc. of leaders you want to emulate. There are a lot of terrible leaders out there that you would not want their advice, but there are many successful leaders who freely offer ways to grow as a leader.
  3. Spend time with others focused on leadership growth. Join a mastermind group. Search LinkedIn for leaders in your similar field. Reach out to people in your sphere of influence who are doing things well. Invest your time with other people who are heading in a similar direction. It will be time well spent.
  4. Celebrate little successes. When you handle a situation better today than you did a year ago, take time to honor that accomplishment. When you engage in a healthy conflict that gets resolved, give yourself credit for doing the hard work.
  5. Remember you’re on your own unique path. You will gain leadership experience in unique ways. You will grow and change at your own pace. Your story is not like anyone else’s, so don’t compare yourself to other people. Be yourself and become the person you’re meant to be!

The only way to get leadership experience is through practice. The more you lead, the better you lead. Every leader starts at the beginning. No one is born knowing all there is to know about human interactions and leadership growth. 

You have what it takes to be a quality leader. You have the skills and abilities to lead well. No matter how small or how large your impact is, you are a leader. Owning that and taking it seriously leads to a lifetime of development.  The more you invest, the better you will be. Start today in one small way toward getting leadership experience. Every investment you make in your future will be worth it!

Leadership Principles

Company Principles and Values, along with Vision, Mission, and Goals, are essential for driving and supporting organizational success.
Does your place of work operate within a set of principles that clearly guide team members? Do they define how employees are to be treated, how employees will optimally interact with one another, and how the needs of clients, internal/external customers, and shareholders are best serviced?

It all starts with the employees. We’ve talked about satisfaction levels, attrition, general work engagement, and shared that employees leave “their boss, not their job”. The quality of leadership makes individuals and companies thrive while reducing turnover.

In Success Magazine, May/June 2022, Editor Tristan Ahumada shares 6 Leadership
Principles of quality leadership he feels are necessary for leaders of all levels. Excerpts include:

  • Innovation: Great leaders look for opportunities that will be impactful
  • Systems:  Great leaders understand the need for systems and processes and their ability for reuse
  • People First:  People must be truly valued and treated well in order to achieve success
  • Awareness:  Leaders understand the impact they have on others and the repercussions their actions and words will have
  • Resilience:  Leaders must have grit and determination to deal with tough times and failures
  • Kindness:  This is sometimes forgotten; great leaders are empathetic and compassionate, build relationships and unite people

As a leader, what principles do you support and promote within your organization? Are there any that Mr. Ahumada provided that you could incorporate? Any that you disagree with?

For leadership values and principles, remember: I SPARK.


Mike and Jan

If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.
–Howard Schultz