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What inclusive leaders sound like

November 29, 2020
Diversity & Inclusion

When leaders commit to building an inclusive organization, they tend to start with the company mission, vision, values, and a promise to ensure everyone in the organization has a voice. But if they don’t change the way they communicate every day with their employees, leaders are missing a crucial piece.

In a recent analysis, our team at Quantified Communications examined how inclusive leaders talk. The findings revealed that, despite the stated emphasis on inclusion, very few leaders have actually developed an inclusive communication style.

The Analysis
The research began by asking a diverse panel of 50 communication experts (who specialize in areas such as speech, rhetoric, social influence, and organizational communication) to watch 30 speakers and evaluate whether they were truly inclusive in key moments. The set of 50 experts, all holding advanced degrees (and more than half, PhDs), was 70% white, Hispanic, or Latinx, 20% Black, 8% Asian, and 2% biracial or multiracial. After observing the speakers, they rated each on a one-to-seven Likert scale.

Next, those same 30 speakers’ communication behaviors were analyzed using Quantified’s proprietary computational linguistics, vocal mapping, and facial micro-expression analysis. What words did they use? What pronouns? What phrases? What did they do with their voices, faces, and body language?

The team then evaluated both sets of results (the analysis of the speakers’ behaviors plus the audience’s impressions) to determine which leadership behaviors drive audiences to perceive leaders as inclusive. Then, they benchmarked the inclusive leaders’ behaviors relative to a large dataset of senior leaders at Fortune 1,000 firms who had been evaluated on the same communication behaviors (word choice, vocal patterns, non-verbal cues). The goal was to ensure the communication behaviors identified as inclusive were unique to the pool of inclusive leaders (and not just behaviors all senior leaders tend to exhibit).

The research was focused on answers to two questions: First, what are the essential behaviors that make an audience feel genuinely included by a leader? And second, how much more frequently do inclusive leaders exhibit these behaviors relative to the average leader in the same position? Read full article

by Noah Zandan and Lisa Shalett

Source: hbr.org

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