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Leaders Aren’t Great Judges of How Inclusive They Are

Hiring for diversity is one thing. Ensuring that everyone employed is equally welcomed and included is another matter, and the people who are best at it might surprise you. In an article for Harvard Business Review, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman share their data on inclusiveness—and how many leaders are not so good at it.

Ostensibly Included

The authors’ data actually comes from one organization, but the business is known for its “excellent track record of hiring and promoting diverse candidates and a reputation for inclusion” and 4,000 of its leaders were assessed. They make this finding:

… leaders who are the worst at valuing diversity are more likely to overrate their effectiveness, and leaders who are the most effective tend to underrate their effectiveness. The implications of this data are: leaders are not good judges of their own effectiveness on valuing diversity; and those leaders who are poorest fail to see the problem, while those who are the best don’t realize their skill and capability.

This phenomenon is not limited to inclusiveness — the Dunning-Kruger effect, for example, explains that unskilled people are particularly prone to thinking they are more skilled than they are. Conversely, our research has found that many of the most skilled leaders are too humble and modest in assessing their strengths.

When it comes to overall leadership effectiveness, there is a direct correlation between higher leadership effectiveness and higher inclusion. In turn, those who scored very poorly in valuing diversity and inclusion scored very poorly for overall leadership effectiveness.

Who actually is the most inclusive though? The authors’ data give that crown to senior leaders, who were rated “significantly higher” in that regard than middle managers and junior supervisors. This is basically because senior leaders have been around the block and had more time to hone their skills. Although, there is also a caveat to consider—in a business that values diversity, the individuals at higher rungs will inevitably believe more in diversity too.

To delve deeper into the data, you can view the original article here: https://hbr.org/2017/10/leaders-arent-great-at-judging-how-inclusive-they-are

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