Mimicking the Boss

Nicole Jones Young
Nicole Jones Young (Melissa Ferrigno/UConn School of Business)

Doctoral Student Nicole Jones Young Wins Her Second Award for Research on ‘Trickle-Down Leadership’ and Inclusivity

Management doctoral candidate Nicole Jones Young has won her second prestigious award in two years for research that shows employees pay close attention to their bosses’ actions, more than their words, when it comes to inclusivity in the workplace.

“A Trickle-Down Approach to Inclusive Leadership: The Role of Supervisory Moral Identity,” was recognized by the prestigious Southern Management Association (SMA) as the top doctoral research paper focused on ethics, social and diversity issues.

She won the same award two years ago for a paper on the same topic, which she and her colleagues have since expanded. The award was presented at the end of October.

Jones Young, who is a fifth-year doctoral student and plans to defend her dissertation in the spring, said she was pleased to be honored along with co-authors and friends Darryl Rice, a management professor at Miami University of Ohio, and Sharon Sheridan, a doctoral candidate at the University of Central Florida.

“We looked at how leaders’ attitudes and behaviors relate to organizational inclusion and set the tone that trickles down to the remainder of the organization,” Jones Young said. “While some managers may naturally be inclined to behave inclusively, some are looking to their managers for an example. We found that managers are more likely to be inclusive if their organizational leaders are inclusive. Therefore, employees are watching their managers’ behavior very closely and can learn how to be inclusive.”

Managerial research today has shifted from encouraging diversity to promoting inclusion, which enables all employees to feel valued and to fully participate in their organizations. Jones Young and her colleagues examined the trickle down effect of inclusive leadership behavior in a two-part study. In study one, supervisors and their direct reports from a variety of industries (accounting, banking, education, food services, manufacturing) participated in an online survey. In study two, an undergraduate sample participated in a policy capturing study, where the researchers manipulated cues related to supervisor inclusive behavior and moral identity. Their findings were that top leaders’ inclusive behavior is a clear predictor of supervisory inclusive behavior.

Jones Young’s professional experience is in Human Resources, specifically in the areas of training and talent management. She has worked in the sports industry (New Jersey Nets – now the Brooklyn Nets), financial services (MSCI Barra/Morgan Stanley Capital Investments), and consumer product goods (Daymon Worldwide of Stamford, Conn.).

She is currently a member of the Academy of Management, the Ph.D. Project Management Doctoral Student Association, National Black MBA Association, and Society of Human Resource Management. Her area of interest is organizational behavior, specifically in social class, marginalized populations and organizational inclusion.

She met her co-authors through the Ph.D. Project, a national organization that aims to increase the number of underrepresented minority business school faculty and administrators in higher education. “It’s always nice to get recognition, and especially to get it while working with friends,” she said.

Jones Young said she believes that many managers will attend a program on diversity, but once it is over it isn’t foremost in their minds. A company that wants to instill a new attitude, should consider tying diversity competency to an employee’s evaluation. “For people who are struggling with it, it is important to have feedback in this area,” she said.

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