Includer: Stretching the Circle Wider

A CliftonStrengths Theme Spotlight

"People exceptionally talented in the Includer theme accept others. They show awareness of those who feel left out and make an effort to include them." -The Gallup Organization

My husband has an Includer talent theme. He's always been a gatherer of people. It's one of my favorite things about him. Well, most of the time anyway.

Here's one of my favorite Includer stories about him. I often share it when we facilitate workshops with people who are high in Includer because it always resonates with them.

A few years ago he asked if I would be open to us hosting a Super-Bowl Watch Party. He knows this isn't my favorite way to watch a football game, but I was willing to oblige because I knew how much he would enjoy having people over. Against my better judgment, we didn't set any ground-rules.

Two hours later I received a text from him:

"Don't be mad. I created a Facebook invite."

Oh no.

He did not.

But of course, yes he did. I immediately opened the app to discover an invitation extended to over SIXTY people. All at once I was equal parts stressed (and yes, mad!) and amused. He just can't help himself when it comes to including others. It's unnatural for him to leave people out who would love to be a part of the party.

"If I invite so-and-so, I've got to invite so-and-so too!"

These are the sentiments of an Includer, my friends. Here's a bit more about this incredible Relationship Building talent.

The Talents of People High in Includer

People high in Includer are people who stretch the circle wider and make the table longer in both their personal and professional lives. They are naturally welcoming, inclusive and strive to cultivate tolerance and diversity wherever they can. When they're at their best, those high in Includer have the ability to make other people feel seen, heard and understood.

Their presence on teams can improve communication and participation because of their ability to make others feel that they have a place in the group and a role to fulfill. Their charm lies in their desire to gather people around a common purpose or plan, whether it's a football watch party like my husband, or an important project at work.

Sometimes those high in Includer are characterized by their very large friend groups or social networks. One friend with Includer is known for having an "entourage" with him at all times. He consistently brings new people to the table, though. "This isn't a clique," he insists. That would be deeply offensive to him.

In fact, those high in Includer are painfully aware of exclusion in all its forms. They are very sensitive to the voices that aren't being heard and often speak up as advocates for those who have been intentionally or unintentionally left out. They're always asking questions like, "Who else should be here?" or "Why don't we ask for this person's input before we make this decision?"

We know an educator with an Includer theme and she had this to say about it:

"My Includer strength describes why I think that all people are equally important and deserving of a spot at the table. As a public speaking instructor, I am intentional about creating a classroom environment that consistently incorporates each individual student within the larger group. My includer theme consequently encourages me to be conscious of anyone who may feel excluded or overlooked, which can make all the difference for a student's learning experience."

The Temptations for People High in Includer

Because they are so passionate about welcoming and embracing others, sometimes the person high in Includer can be taken advantage of by others who desperately want control or leverage in a team or workplace. They can also be perceived by others as "generous to a fault" because of this reality. Additionally, the Includer can sometimes struggle to be selective and exclusive when it's necessary. There are times when the group should be strategically small, and this is difficult for an Includer to understand because, to them, it's so much more natural to make more room for others than to have to exclude anyone.

Similarly, those high in the Includer theme can complicate the decision-making process because they invite too many people to the table. This "too many cooks in the kitchen" approach can frustrate key decision-makers, especially when quick action is warranted. If Includers don't learn how to become more intentional and selective when inviting others, they will struggle with both their individual and team productivity.

When we work with people high in Includer, they often express how much they enjoy being in and leading meetings. "It's fun to be together," they tell us! As it turns out, though, many other people don't enjoy those meetings quite as much. We often encourage Includers to consider returning at least one meeting back to the people!

A friend with Includer spoke to this very thing:

"I have to remind myself that most other people don't think about gathering people together like I do. It isn't that they don't care about a "family-like atmosphere" but they aren't as aware of all the factors that work against that atmosphere on a given day. From my perspective, if we aren't working together, we're growing apart. "

Action Steps for the Includer

Here are a couple of quick ideas to get you thinking about how to leverage and self-regulate if you've got a dominant Includer theme:

  1. If possible, ask for opportunities to help your team or organization in the new employee on-boarding phase. Your ability to welcome outsiders to the inside will be much appreciated by everyone involved.

  2. Consider partnering with people high in Influencing themes. Their ability to reach a broad audience could help you create a larger culture of inclusion and acceptance.

  3. When leading a team or working with others, remember that the more people you invite to the process, the more complexity you're responsible to manage. This is a tension you will need to navigate as you learn to lead with your Includer theme.

At ROI Talent Development, we try to help people fall in love with every single talent theme, even if it isn't dominant in their own theme sequence. Because when we all take the time to understand and appreciate one another, we build happy and healthy workplaces where employee talents are valued and developed.

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