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Inclusive Leadership


Inclusive Leadership

How would you describe an inclusive leader in one sentence? We asked ourselves this question and racked our brains.

Inclusive Leadership

What are the characteristics of an inclusive leader?

The Harvard Business Review already asked the same question, and surveyed 3,500 employees on 450 managers to answer it. As a result of the survey, the following character traits were defined for inclusive leaders:1

  1. Visible commitment: they are dedicated to diversity, and question current rules and habits. Involvement and diversity are high priorities.
  2. Humility: they are humble about their own skills, admit to mistakes and leave space for others to apply themselves.
  3. Awareness of limits and shortcomings: they know their own limits and where their knowledge ends, and spot problems in the system.
  4. Interested in people: they greet others with openness and curiosity, and listen without judgement, instead using empathy to understand.
  5. Cultural intelligence: they respect other cultures and make adaptions respectfully.
  6. Efficient collaboration: they encourage others to value psychological security and value togetherness in a team.

Inclusive leaders should do less ordering and more coaching. They should help when employees get stuck. They should create an environment where employee opinions are valued. And they should act as part of the team. To achieve this, empathy, openness, humility and owning up to their own mistakes are important.

Why do we need inclusive leadership?

Due to the sheer number of employees, companies are often able to access a huge cache of company knowledge. Wouldn’t it be foolish to limit this knowledge to just managers when making decisions? All employees should be encouraged to question things and contribute their thoughts, and this works best under inclusive leadership. When employees feel that changes have to come from above and that their superiors have to be perfect and all-knowing in their jobs, this can hinder a company. It’s much easier to criticise than to change. Inclusive leadership strives towards managers relinquishing control and involving employees more.

So, how would we describe inclusive leaders in one sentence?

We believe that a manager’s job is to support employees in their tasks, take their concerns seriously and to encourage and embolden them. That’s why we take care of our staff and give them space for courage and autonomy. Relationships and friendship take centre stage for us. That’s how independent, motivated individuals with a range of skills form innovative, strong teams.

Employees shouldn’t feel that changes are brought down on them from above. A company should function as a team, not as a hierarchy. Managers take on the role of coaches. In one sentence:

Inclusive leaders are managers that work for their employees.

 

Sources:

1 https://hbr.org/2019/03/why-inclusive-leaders-are-good-for-organizations-and-how-to-become-one (14.11.20)

Published: 23. November 2020

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