What a leader says and does is key to whether or not an individual feels included in a team or organisation.
As such, inclusion has become a vital leadership trait. To understand this more, we thought we would explore what factors make up inclusive leadership.
Commitment to diversity and inclusion
Inclusive leaders show a commitment to inclusion. They challenge existing attitudes and hold others accountable. And they make diversity a priority. Inclusive leaders know that establishing a welcoming culture starts with them. And they maintain a solid sense of duty to promote change. They devote their time and energy to nurturing their staff by investing in them. As well as empowering them to share their passions and goals.
An inclusive leader shows humility in their role. They admit when they make mistakes. And they create the space for others to contribute. Moreover, they know each of their team members by name and know what is going on in their lives. Not just details that could affect their work, but whatever else they share with the team. Inclusive leaders also recognise their particular limitations and search out contributions from others to overcome them. They know that they don’t have all the answers. But they know their team can help them find solutions.
Awareness of bias
Inclusive leaders know where their personal blind spots are. They also know where the flaws are in the system. And they work hard to make sure that all staff members are treated fairly. Inclusive leaders understand that personal and organisational biases reduce their ability to see the bigger picture. They also know that their biases stop them from making objective decisions. As such, they apply a lot of energy to understanding their own biases and finding ways to prevent them from influencing their decisions.
Curiosity about others
A leader that is inclusive has a genuine curiosity about their staff. They listen with an open mind. And they use empathy to try and understand others. Curiosity ensures a broader point of view, minimising blind spots and improving decision making. It also enables a leader to engage in respectful questioning and active listening. And it helps them to blend a range of ideas from their team, so the people around them feel valued and represented.
Culturally intelligent leaders act and speak to their team members with respect to their cultural values. If the project manager is out going, they will adapt their style when working with team members whose cultures value modesty. They also know to regulate the speed and tone of their speech and alter their nonverbal behaviour to suit the team member they are talking to. At the same time, they are aware of their own cultural influences. Which means they recognise how it shapes their perspective and expectations of others.
Inclusive leaders know that for a successful collaboration, team members need to feel empowered to voice their views freely with the rest of the team. That means creating a safe space for their staff, free from judgment. They also ensure the team doesn’t break into subgroups, weakening relationships and creating conflict. They nurture a sense of a united unit by establishing a group identity and shared goals. And they strive to ensure that team members understand and value each other’s knowledge and skills.
Leadership Directions’ mission is to help emerging and frontline managers achieve positive, long-term behavioral change for themselves and their teams. We achieve this through practical high-quality leadership programs, self-directed action planning and embedded learning support. Currently some of our Leadership courses are run online through our sister company Odyssey Training. Discover the short 2 hour course Inclusive Leadership. Learn how inclusive leadership can help you connect with your people on a much deeper level and get them to make remarkable and sometimes surprising contributions to the organisation.
Looking for a course to engage, inspire and motivate your staff? Leadership Skills for Managers will help you understand the four main elements that must be present within your leadership to have an engaged team, all whilst learning how to overcome change and resistance. Many of your core leadership skills will be strengthened, and you will learn how to think strategically as a leader.