What is Inclusive Leadership?

A leadership approach that appreciates team members, welcomes different viewpoints and fosters a culture where employees believe their thoughts and contributions advance the organization’s success is known as inclusive leadership. It is an authentic leadership style that rules out any discrimination in the workplace and encourages diversity allowing employees, no matter their socioeconomic background, to feel valued.

Why is inclusive leadership important?

Thanks to new technologies and the rise of social media, our world has become smaller than ever. To stay relevant in this competitive landscape, businesses need to diversify and attract customers from various socioeconomic groups. Inclusive leadership helps in this by encouraging diversification and making employees feel more comfortable, which resonates within the company and helps them ensure impeccable service. 

Inclusive leaders are also good at adapting to different scenarios and approaching various business problems with an alternate perspective and an open, non-judgmental mind to bring the best results possible. 

Recent research conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that teams with inclusive leaders are 17% more likely to report high performance when compared to businesses with a non-inclusive leadership mindset. 

How to promote inclusive leadership in the workplace 

When recruiting for a senior position or promoting someone to a managerial role, most businesses now look for traits that indicate an inclusive leadership mindset. Here are some best practices for inclusive leaders:

Inclusive leadership training: Getting professional training with certification is the best way to showcase your inclusive leadership skills. Several professional programs can help you learn how to avoid biases in the workplace and promote inclusive leadership ideas. You can check George Washington University lecture notes on Inclusive Leadership to get a fundamental idea on inclusive training. 

Finding a mentor: Speak with someone who has handled different teams expertly and has greater expertise in the field. It doesn’t have to be your own boss; it may be a third party whose inclusive leadership traits and abilities you like and admire. 

Feedback: Inclusive leadership is a trait that develops over time, so constant feedback is really important to ensure you are on the right track. One-on-one meetings can be great for receiving feedback, but a survey or questionnaire works just as well if your company works virtually. But as an inclusive leader, you should take this feedback seriously, as even when you are careful, it is easy to get lost in translation when it comes to biases. 

Characteristics of an inclusive leadership

Cultural intelligence: A leader who possesses excellent cultural intelligence can interact with different cultures, show appreciation to minorities, and overall create an environment where everyone feels safe with their respective culture. 

Mutability: Part of a great inclusive leader is their ability to change and adapt to different situations. New ideas will emerge, and it is up to an intuitive leader to embrace change. 

Collaboration: Making decisions shouldn’t be regarded as a privilege that only higher management can have. Instead, all employees should have an equal voice in making a decision in the workplace. This will result in a more cohesive team where the inclusive leaders are viewed as role models rather than intimidating superiors.


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