Inclusion: Maximize the POP in Your Culture


The large corporation recognizes the power of inclusion. They realize the enormous reservoir of residual potential within their employees. Similar companies are establishing practices to capitalize on the diversity within their ranks. Inherent in their approaches is the desire to create an OASIS1 where people can be Open And Share Information Safely; where people can fully express their minds in a culture of trust, where their talents will be developed and appreciated. Where inclusion is successful, there is an increase in energy and engagement.

POP (Potential – Opportunity – Problems)

When companies maximize the POP in their culture, they focus on potential, opportunity and problems. Potential represents the reservoir of thoughts, ideas, resourcefulness and resilience which could fuel innovation and productivity. There is untapped energy that can be used to benefit all constituents. Potential is the pipeline for new ideas and solutions for today and tomorrow.

First, we acknowledge potential as the latent ability to accomplish excellence. It is the sum total of talent, capacity, skills and ability. Potential speaks to the unlimited capacity within us. They are not sure how much power is stored in each individual, but they need to provide the environment to explore their content. The uniqueness and diversity of each individual may be linked to the variety of experiences, exposure and expertise they own.

Secondly, opportunity is defined by Merriam Webster’s dictionary as, “a favorable or promising combination of circumstances or a chance for advancement or improvement. There are synergies when engagement and diversity are maximized. Additional value can be gained by minimizing the detrimental effects of unconscious bias and negative micro inequities.

Opportunity is a chance to capitalize on a situation or moments that could lead to new discoveries, customer benefits and hopefully, a competitive advantage. Taking advantage of opportunities requires flexibility that is focused and spontaneous. Agility with the ability for greatness to maneuver the white waters of change is important to leverage opportunity. Responsiveness will allow organizations to master changes in direction by preparation and timing.

Thirdly, problems do and will exist. They may be due to the negative ways people are treated. This could lead to a suboptimal release of talent, skills and abilities. Ultimately, engagement, innovation, employee satisfaction and results are impaired. The problem could represent unproductive conflict or the uncontested unconscious bias and micro-inequities within the culture. Problems may be barriers, a discrepancy between results and expectations, as well as the delta between where they are and where they want to go. The problems may also denote the business challenges encountered which require the entire capacity of their teams to concentrate on the problem for maximum effectiveness.

Many times the problem could be a lack of developmental information. It would be ideal if people are vulnerable and share the areas where they need to improve. Too many times performance management becomes a game of Hide and Seek or Keep away. Individuals are aware of their developmental areas, but are reluctant to be vulnerable and share because of the negative consequences of evaluation and ratings. It could cost them money. Where there is trust people feel comfortable about being authentic and transparent as they dedicate themselves to the individual and group getting better.

SPOT (Strengths – Potential – Opportunity – Threats)


Let’s turn our attention to applying energy and resources to the right area, the main thing, as it is often called. Inclusion gives us a strategy to maximize the POP in our culture by encouraging us to set our sights on excellence. When we identify our focus, we may say that X marks the spot. By using another acronym, the SPOT stands for Strengths, Potential, Opportunity and Threats.

The spot allows us to expand self awareness and become inwardly centered on individual skills and abilities. We were hired and promoted mainly for our strengths. These strengths should be harnessed to benefit us and the company. Marcus Buckingham touts the value of increased engagement2, if people feel that every day they can use their strengths at work. The environment for increased engagement stated in the Gallup- Q-12, Marcus was a part of the research, highlighted 12 factors that are favorably addressed in high engagement cultures. The idea is to give strengths the priority while managing and minimizing areas needing further development (weaknesses). The leader must understand these principles and determine how they apply personally.

Potential and opportunity are the same as stated earlier. The leader must also benefit, along with the other members of the team and organization. Opportunities may spring up as trends and openings that can be beneficial, if responded to decisively with excellence. A leader must model the acuity and ingenuity to solve problems and the use results orientation to reach their goals.

Threats are usually evaluated from an external vantage point. We want to answer the question, what are the negative things outside of the organization that can externally impact individuals and the company. Whereas, this is very crucial, there are also internal threats that we must be aware of, so that they do not derail achieving our goals or career objectives. These threats could be systemic, such as the prevalence of unconscious bias and micro inequities in suppressing growth and development.

We must create a culture that minimizes the impact of unconscious bias and micro-inequities.

  • They are structurally held in check by programs
  • Data is accumulated to detect and rectify their presence
  • Individual participants are identified and held accountable for their actions
  • It is safe for people to speak up where the OASIS exists (Open And Share Information Safely)

The threat could also be individuals who may not have our best interests at heart. The threats could be personality issues that need to be corrected, such as difficulties with emotional intelligence which compromises leader effectiveness. These barriers, harmful trends, negative circumstances or individuals could disrupt our path to career excellence.Inclusion will enable organizations to adopt a leadership style that begins with personal self-awareness, self-management and moving onward to others, as we increase social awareness and relationship management.

Inclusion will enable us to maximize the POP in our culture (Potential – Opportunities – Problems). The leader must be an example for direct reports and those who look up to us for guidance and inspiration. We must focus on the organization but personally demonstrate how excellence marks the SPOT; focusing on our particular Strengths, Potential, Opportunities and Threats. Copyright © 2017 Orlando Ceaser


  1. Orlando Ceaser, Unlock Your Leadership Greatness (Chicago IL: Watchwell Communications Inc., 2014)
  2. Marcus Buckingham, Standout 2.0 (Boston Mass: Harvard Press, 2015)