Do you feel included in your organization? Companies generally have diverse, multidisciplinary teams. These teams combine the collective capabilities of women and men, people of different cultural heritage, and younger and older workers. But one cannot say that his/her organization has high performance as it involves a mix of people working together.
There is a need for leadership that assures that all the team members feel equally treated, respected and valued. Such leadership is known as inclusive leadership. The organizations should actively work to achieve an inclusive workplace for their employees. It is the responsibility of the leaders to create an inclusive work environment which can recognize and leverage all the unique traits, talents as well as experiences of the team members.
Inclusion is not about diversity. It’s about competitive advantage. And it’s a choice.
Inclusion involves fostering the structure, culture, and mindset of a leader. Incorporating inclusive leadership, allows and encourages each member of the team to have a voice and bring out their best by performing to their potential.
How can you be an inclusive leader?
- Are you able to recognize your unconscious bias? It is impossible to understand all the values, beliefs, rituals of each employee at work. But you must work to understand your own unconscious bias. To be an inclusive leader you must be aware when you are making assumptions.
- Do you respect individuality? To become an inclusive leader, you need to respect as well as embrace individual differences, different ideas, and ways of working of your team members. Do not ever expect your employees to be the same.
Recognize the value of your team that composes a wide range of skills, passions, and viewpoints. Kristie Rogers, a management professor who researches respect in the workplace, explains how respect for individuals delivers a range of benefits: “Employees who say they feel respected are more satisfied with their jobs and more grateful for, and loyal to their companies. Hence, being an inclusive leader, if you are having respect for individuals in an inclusive workplace, it will not only benefit the employees but also benefit the organization.
- Does your organization has cultural norms? When these norms are not written anywhere, new employees can know them. Under inclusive leadership, it is the leader’s responsibility to proactively look for ways to make employees feel comfortable. It also focuses on not overlooking the small things. You should get back and amplify your team members’ points with a comment.
- Do you respect the uniqueness of your team? As an inclusive leader, you must notice and talk about the differences of your team members without making any team members feel objectified. As a leader, you will be more successful when you see and respect the unique qualities of each team member.
- Do you trust your team members? If yes, then it is a sign of being an inclusive leader. Having an inclusive leadership makes you commit to “We” before “Me”. How will you bring expertise to work? Your team members must trust you and the same way, you should trust them too. Fostering trust between each other enables your team members to feel safe and make them contribute their unique perspectives.
- Do you adjust your leadership approach? You must proactively adjust your leadership approach to meet the needs of your team members. Inclusive leadership demands an ability to recognize team members’ preferred way of communication. Inclusive leaders can prove their adaptability by not only being flexible but also being open in making adjustments that enable team members to perform at their best.
- Do you recognize that collaboration is essential to achieve team goals? Inclusive leaders know the importance of sharing ideas, resources as well as energy to execute team goals and create an inclusive environment. Inclusive leadership will demand your team members to work with and not against one another.
It is also required that all the team members look out for others on the team so that no member of the team fails. You, as an inclusive leader, must build collaboration both within and across your team, gather the diverse perspectives of your team members, and leverage a range of experiences. While doing so, an inclusive leader can create an environment where your team members feel empowered to offer ideas and expertise to each others. This will make your team members accountable for giving their best effort to ensure the success of the team.
If you as a leader wants to effectively lead your team members and build strong workplace culture, inclusive leadership is considered of utmost importance.
In short, inclusive leaders recognizes the individual differences in the team, listens to his/her employees’ voices, and utilizes their talents as well as skill sets to achieve greater organizational impact. When the leaders know how to create an inclusive culture, the organization can gain the most from each individual’s knowledge and experience.