What often sets apart a great leader from a mediocre one is an inclusive mindset. Inclusive leadership is about making people feel valued for their perspectives, talents and abilities. Becoming an inclusive leader is a journey, that takes dedication, practice, reflection and persistence.
An Inclusive Leader;
- Listens to and seeks out the views of others and takes account of these views without bias
- Appreciates that diversity generates more creative solutions when problem solving
- Inspires others through a shared vision of success
- Leverages difference for increased performance
- Provides positive feedback to boost others’ self-efficacy
- Prioritizes helping others identify and develop their talents
- Communicates authentically and honestly in a way that inspires trust, loyalty and well-being
- Is aware of his/her own biases and mindsets
- Challenges others to new and creative ways of thinking
There is a large body of evidence that diverse and inclusive teams produce better results. They gain competitive advantage when recruiting talent, perform better financially and experience less turnover. Nearly half of the students in the United States are students of color, and without leaders that reflect the diversity of our communities, organizations cannot effectively address the needs of the populations they are working to serve. We have taken the findings of various research and best-practices coupled with our own experiences, and developed five steps any leader can take to build inclusive leadership:
- Vision– Develop a vision of what inclusive leadership is, why it matters, what will it bring that is different, and how will the impact of inclusive behaviors be evaluated and rewarded.
- Champion– Create inclusion champions in your organization at all levels, and make them ambassadors of inclusion. Building a group of change agents helps ensure long-term success.
- Teach– Build inclusive competencies into the core of your organization’s leadership competencies. Inclusive competencies include; listening deeply, adaptability, recruiting, retaining and developing diverse talent, and building inclusive relationships.
- Sustain– Make inclusive leadership competencies essential criteria in recruitment, promotion and evaluation of all leaders and supervisors. This makes inclusion imperative with good management and leadership.
- Evaluate– Develop a range of formal and informal evaluation tools. Regularly evaluate internal talent to ensure that a diverse leadership pipeline.
Inclusive leadership matters, and has a powerful influence on employee and organizational performance. Employees who work with and for inclusive leaders tend to be more motivated, productive and loyal. When employees feel included, they are more likely to go above and beyond, they are better team players which results in increased organizational performance. Being an inclusive leader is not easy, it takes truth telling, dedication and grit.
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