Book of the Month
The Power of Uniqueness and Belonging to Build Innovative Teams
by Dr Stefanie Johnson
Humans have two basic desires: to stand out and to fit in. Companies respond by creating groups that tend to the extreme—where everyone fits in and no one stands out, or where everyone stands out and no one fits in. How do we find that happy medium where employees can demonstrate their individuality while also feeling they belong?
The answer, says author, Dr Stefanie Johnson, is to Inclusify. In this essential handbook, she explains what it means to Inclusify and how it can be used to strengthen any business. Inclusifying—unlike “diversifying” or “including”— implies a continuous, sustained effort towards helping diverse teams feel engaged, empowered, accepted, and valued. It’s no use having diversity if everyone feels like an outsider, she contends.
In her research, Johnson found common problems leaders exhibit which frustrate their attempts to create diverse and cohesive teams. Leaders that underestimated the importance of group coherence and dynamics often have employees who do not feel like they belong; leaders that ignore the benefits of listening to different perspectives leave some people feeling like they cannot be their authentic selves.
By contrast, leaders who Inclusify can forge strong relationships with their teams, inspire greater productivity from all of their workers, and create a more positive environment for everyone. Having a true range of different voices is good for the bottom line—it allows for the development of the best, most innovative, and creative solutions that are essential to success.
Inclusify reveals the unexpected ways that well-intentioned leaders undermine their teams, explains how to recognize the myths and misperceptions that drive these behaviors, and provides practical strategies to become an Inclusifyer. By learning why uniqueness and belonging are so imperative, leaders can better understand what makes their employees tick and find ways to encourage them to be themselves while ensuring they feel like they are fully part of the group. The result is a fully engaged team filled with diverse perspectives—the key to creating innovative and imaginative ideas that drive value.
About the Author
Stefanie Johnson is an Associate Professor of Management at the Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado. Her work has been featured in The Economist, Newsweek, Time, and on CNN. She lives in the Boulder Bubble in Colorado with her family. She says:
“This book is for leaders who understand that diversity is a reality, but they just don’t know how to lead in a way that maximizes its benefits and gets the most out of their teams. My mission in life is to help leaders examine their own lives and behaviors through a stronger lens than the one most of us have used until now, so the path to Inclusifying becomes clear. Everyone has the desire to be themselves while being part of the team. In a competitive talent market where engagement drives retention and innovation is the key to continued success, leaders must find ways to transform diverse groups into Inclusifyed teams – or those leaders won’t survive.”