Five Things You Can Do to Be a More Inclusive Leader

What is Inclusive leadership?

First of all, let’s dive into fully understanding what inclusive leadership is. It is about creating a workplace environment in which all your team members feel empowered to contribute and feel safe to be themselves. It means demonstrating empathy, increasing cultural and emotional intelligence, and establishing a culture that values diverse perspectives.

The truth is that many people minimize or hide aspects of their true selves in the workplace for fear of not being fully welcomed. But with an inclusive workplace, you can experience greater engagement, better performance, and higher profits.

We know why diversity is important, but how do we drive real change at work? We want to share with you these steps to guide you to create an inclusive workplace where everyone can succeed.

“Our potential is unleashed if we feel like we belong.”

Anyone can -and everyone should- demonstrate inclusive behavior. Whether you’re a CEO, a manager, or a new employee without direct reports, work on being an inclusive leader. We want to provide you with 5 things you can do to create a workplace of a more inclusive understanding where everyone’s talent can stand out.

  1. Awareness of bias

It might be impractical to understand all of the beliefs, values, and norms that are important to all your colleagues: but you can work on understanding your own unconscious bias about what you assume about others.

Recognize your unconscious bias and be humble about it. Having ideas isn’t wrong or evil, it is part of how we all fast track understanding, but the problem occurs when you’re not even aware that you’re making assumptions.

Focus on “Culture add”, not a “Culture fit”.

  1. Educate yourself

In the first place, understand that you don’t know everything. You can demonstrate an open mindset and deep curiosity about others, listen without judgment, and seek with empathy to understand those around you. Be attentive to others’ cultures and adapt as required. When in doubt, always request more info, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Tip: Consider anonymous options for collecting feedback, paired with a commitment to improving.

  1. Take action with a visible commitment

Well-speak out loud a real commitment to diversity, challenge the status quo and make diversity and inclusion a personal priority.

Every organization has cultural norms, but if they aren’t written anywhere and are treated as understood, it can be hard for new members to know them. Let’s stop making assumptions and instead, look for ways to make sure all employees are comfortable.

Also, provide a network of support. Creating a warm environment where people feel connected and able to share struggles is of most importance for diversity and inclusion efforts.

  1. Effective collaboration

Practice active listening. When we are better listeners, we are trusted. Ask open-ended questions and listen through, without interrupting. This will allow a deeper connection for support and inclusion. 

When you witness someone being dismissive to someone else, call it out and focus on asserting what you notice and recommending alternatives that include everyone.

Empower your team, pay attention to the diversity of thinking and psychological safety, and focus on keeping your work team united.

  1. Be open to and take feedback as a leader

Feedback is the most transcendent resource for growth. Especially honest feedback where team members don’t feel pressured to provide only positive remarks.

Not only do you need feedback from someone else, but the best is to reflect on yourself. Start paying attention to your frame of reference. Consider how your background affects the way you show up at work. Think about the ways your education, race, gender, age, physical or mental health all come into play. How comfortable are you discussing those things at work? How comfortable are your reports doing the same? 

Be modest about capabilities, admit mistakes, and create the space for others to contribute.

Leaders who want to take on the task of creating an inclusive space.

Inclusive leaders trust their people. They are totally committed to ‘we’ before ‘me’. If your team trusts you as a leader you have to trust them to bring their expertise to work. Encouraging trust will enable your teammates to feel safe and enthusiastic to contribute their unique perspectives.

We can all do more to make our teams and workplaces more inclusive. Are you ready to do your part at work? 

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