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Inclusive Leadership

What does it mean to be an inclusive leader?

It is having the skill set to self-manage and lead a diverse group of people, respecting, valuing, and acknowledging differences while being aware of everyday biases. According to the leading journal review, there are six signature traits to an inclusive leader:

  • Visible commitment: An inclusive leader is visibly committed to making diversity and inclusion a priority.

  • Humility: The willingness to learn from the group you are leading, admit mistakes, and open to collective growth.

  • Awareness of bias: The ability to manage systemic biases.

  • Curiosity about others: Show authentic interests in others.

  • Cultural intelligence: Learning about and adapting others’ culture.

  • Effective collaboration: They nurture a culture of collaboration by creating a safe space for differences.

Why does this matter?

There is a lot of research available that demonstrates the correlation between employee satisfaction and retention; diversity and innovation; diversity and engagement to name a few. According to Forbes, cultivating a diverse employee population is the right thing to do and also better for business. Glassdoor states that 67% of job seekers consider diversity an important factor in considering employment.

Inclusive leadership is very much part of effective leadership and it is critical that these traits are developed. HBR found that only one of three leaders holds an accurate view of their inclusive leadership skills. A third overestimate their capability and the last third lack confidence so have done less to make a difference to challenge the status quo. Having an awareness of your leadership strengths and weaknesses is a way to self-develop these skills. The traits above can also support self-development such as being curious and visibly committing to strengthening your leadership skills.

It will require a continuing effort of adjusting, practicing, and adapting. It will require grace, self-compassion, self-humility, and empathy. Part of humility is to ask for support, from a mentor, colleague, peer, mental health provider, and/or coach. Contact us to support your leadership development journey.

Written by:

Charlene Birk, MA, PCC Leadership Coach and Diversity Trainer


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