What a leader says and does is key to whether or not an individual feels included in a team or organisation.
An inclusive workplace enables you to increase productivity, improve staff retention, and can help attract the best talent. According to the Harvard Business Review “teams with inclusive leaders are 17% more likely to report that they are high performing and 20% more likely to say they make high-quality decisions”.
As such, inclusion has become a vital leadership trait, and building an inclusive work environment is now more important than ever.
Leadership, just like all skills can be learned, practiced, and fine-tuned. Inclusive leadership is no different. To understand this more, we’re exploring the 6 key traits that you need to become an inclusive leader.
Commitment to diversity and inclusion
Inclusive leaders show a commitment to inclusion. They challenge existing attitudes, hold others accountable and they make diversity a priority. Inclusive leaders know that establishing a welcoming culture starts with them. They maintain a solid sense of duty to promote change and devote their time and energy to nurturing their staff by investing in them. They also empower them to share their passions and goals.
Courage and humility
It can take challenging existing organisational structures to create an inclusive workplace. Leaders must be courageous to stand up for what is right and not be afraid to shake the structure from the ground up, even if there is hesitancy, or resistance about their ideas. They must also not be afraid to show humility, admitting when they make mistakes and creating space for others to contribute and take the spotlight. Inclusive leaders recognise their limitations and are brave enough to share this with their team. They understand that they don’t have all the answers, but they know their team can help them find solutions.
Cognisance of bias and self-awareness
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 understand their own biases and find 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 enables a leader to engage in respectful questioning and active listening. It also 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 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 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 where they strive to ensure that team members understand and value each other’s knowledge and skills.
Are you ready to become an inclusive leader?
If you’ve got these traits, then you’re likely well on your way to being an inclusive leader. If not, don’t panic. Inclusive leadership is a skill that can be learned, practiced and when implemented, delivers exceptional results.
Our leadership courses give you the tools and the blueprint to becoming an inclusive leader and building a culture of inclusion.