Be Inclusive

(This post is part of my series on leadership lessons in history.)

The Roman empire promoted locals in conquered lands to trusted positions within the empire.  George Washington could have never become prime minister in England.  But in an earlier age he could have become a Roman senator (Peter Drucker has observed).

symbolsBecause of this practice, people felt like part of the empire, not subjects.  They were stakeholders rather than slaves.

The culture of inclusion was pervasive.  Centuries after the fall of Rome, many people still thought of themselves as Roman citizens.


Maybe you are governing a non-profit that employs mostly volunteers.  Maybe you are managing the integration of a corporate merger.  In either case, you must make people feel they are vital parts of the organization.  Help them to feel like citizens rather than hirelings.

Rome didn’t make people feel like citizens by claiming “people are our greatest asset.”  The empire had a policy of promoting the best, regardless of geography.

When I was a consultant in Asia, I observed that British companies were sometimes more successful that their French counterparts because they hired and promoted locals.  French firms often insisted that the smartest people were all French, so only French nationals could hold executive posts.   I was told that it was the heritage of the two colonial eras.  Top colonial posts were always occupied by French nationals, but locals could be promoted in British colonies.


Equating inclusion only with skin color is a missed opportunity.  A potentially greater strategy: promoting people from diverse geographies, unrelated corporate divisions, and unconventional educational backgrounds.

Published by Brock Stout, PhD

Brock has helped many people to be extremely successful. He has lived in various countries and has enjoyed several careers, but is now a writer and a coach. He sustained mild lead poisoning as a child, resulting in neurological damage. The result was a life of learning disabilities, always struggling to keep up. But he completed two degrees from competitive universities, then advised Wall Street executives in Asia for 15 years. He later earned a PhD and worked as a university professor for six years. He has started three profitable companies in between. So he particularly wants to help those with special learning challenges. Because so many of us now have these special challenges, they are no longer special. But they are challenges. He wants you to TEACH YOURSELF how to be successful.

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