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Ian Dodds Consulting’s (IDC) Monthly Best Practice: November 2015

By Ian Dodds – The Inclusion Builder

Making it hard for managers to deny that feedback about leadership behaviour applies to them

Why is it that bosses often seem unable to hear tough messages? This is a question that Professors Barham (London Business School) and Meehan (IMD) posed in the April 2008 edition of the Harvard Business Review.

It is a key question for organisations wishing to build an inclusive culture to enable everyone, whatever their diversity, to feel valued and respected and to give of their best. This is because this generally involves transforming the existing white, masculine, heterosexual and physically able culture to one which is much more inclusive for all. To achieve this it is critical that their leaders set an example in inclusive leadership behaviour. IDC has worked with many leaders driving diversity and inclusion change programmes and it has been our experience that they each tend to consider that they are behaving inclusively and that it is their colleagues who need to change. Giving them a tough message about it without evidence is not sufficient to induce change. This is confirmed in Barham and Meehams’ research which found that managers typically rated themselves higher on most measures of performance than their colleagues in 360 degree surveys. They concluded that leaders’ individual leadership behaviour inadequacies need to be ‘cast in sharp relief’. This involves using 360 tools which offer feedback that is specific to the individual and about their behaviour.

One of IDC’s specialist products is an online inclusive leadership behaviour survey. The leadership team identifies the behaviours they need to set an example in to drive their strategy, which always include inclusive behaviours. They then each choose 6 observers who will offer feedback anonymously on the extent to which they are practising these ‘pinpointed’ behaviours. The observers complete the online survey every 3 – 5 months and each leader works on their feedback with a coach. Our experience is that the leaders over a 12-month period improve their scores by between 10% and 15%. This is very noticeable to employees and a powerful driver in influencing everyone to adopt the behaviours needed to drive the strategy and behave more inclusively. Professor Steve Glowinkowski’s research has shown that a 10% improvement in the alignment of leaders’ behaviours with their strategy delivers a 20% improvement in workforce clarity of direction and motivation and a 40% improvement in performance. He calls this the 10 – 20 – 40 opportunity.

We believe more organisations would get the business benefits they seek and an inclusive culture if they adopted this approach. The annual staff survey does not induce change because it does not put each individual leader’s feedback in sharp relief.

IDC’s leadership behaviour tool and coaching process has been refined over 20 years and is highly effective. It can be used locally or globally. Please get in touch if you would like more information,

Dr Ian Dodds, 29 Oct 2015





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