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On Serving, Leadership and Inclusion

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A few years back, I was asked to lunch by an older executive who was not happy about an opportunity I had given to one of my associates. Even though the associate did a good job and was improving, the executive had a strong objection to the assignment and explained that “people like that” are not the “type of employee” who should be allowed to work on the project I had assigned to her.

It took every ounce of self-control to respond in a peaceful manner to this person and respectfully disagree. I have never forgotten that conversation because I was being told to exclude someone.

understand inclusion

We need to understand inclusion by exploring our exclusion tendencies. (Tweet This)

The reason I encourage my clients to seek to understand inclusion by exploring exclusion is because of conversations like the one I had with the executive. There are times when we all feel entitled to exclude others.   It takes a very strong leader to look within, reflect on how they may be justifying her or his excluding tendencies, and change those behaviors.

The executive that took me to lunch is a very nice person and highly respected.  He was articulating a feeling shared by others in the company.  This is the reason I wanted to share this story.

This week on Leading Beyond the Status Quo, I had the pleasure of speaking to Tal Shnall, a training and development expert who trains his staff members from a completely different perspective.  After years of training leaders who lead by serving in the hospitality business, Tal knows that the key for his business to succeed is to engage everyone in the team and include them in the process of serving their constituencies.

Tal quote

Tal’s tutelage enables every employee in the property to to lead by serving.  When they do this, all employees are engaged in communicating the value proposition of their brand and play a critical role in the success of their business.

During the interview, we also discussed the importance of feedback to the process of serving others and delivering a superior experience.  When we shared our thoughts on the difficulties of delivering and receiving feedback, Tal stressed the importance of listening as a way to learn from the other person’s perspective, and how it helps us to let the other person know that their opinion matters.  

 “Listening is key to making sure others feel appreciated and validated in their opinion” @tshnall (Tweet This)

Towards the end of the interview, Tal and I shared how we met on the social web via Lead With Giants, a community where hundreds of us are sharing tools and techniques that can help anyone improve the quality of their leadership.

As I say in many of my shows, developing inclusive cultures, listening, forgiveness, and other leadership techniques are easy to talk about, but very hard to execute.  Lead With Giants is much more than a social space where we share our blog posts.  It is a relevant source of information that helps its members address leadership challenges, share lessons and learn by doing! 


Our goal is to grow the community to 10,000 plus leaders who are leading positive change around the world.  Tal and I would love to have you join us!

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Al Gonzalez

Founding Partner - GIVE Leadership Institute, LLC