How To Develop Inclusive Leadership

To grow and be profitable in this complex business environment, organisations need to be agile, adaptive, and innovative.


To adapt to the demands of their clients with agility, organisations need to make people a critical part of their sustainable strategy. With the composition of the workforce, clients, and various stakeholders becoming more diverse, it has become imperative for leaders to understand the need for inclusive leadership.


What Is Inclusive Leadership?

Inclusive leadership is a style of leadership where leaders commit to value and respect everyone working in the organisation. Inclusive leadership begins with leaders understanding the need for people to be heard, seen, have a voice, be themselves, and feel psychologically safe.


Inclusive leaders are mindful that people are different in their approach, style, and choices yet can be connected through effective communication and practices to perform and achieve the organisational purpose. Inclusive leadership creates systems to promote collaborative decision making and problem-solving.


How Can Leaders Develop Inclusive Leadership?

Inclusive leadership takes practice, but the benefits are clear. A study by Deloitte found that companies with inclusive leadership practices were more likely to attract top talent. Furthermore, 29% of teams with inclusive leaders are more likely to work collaboratively.


To create an inclusive leadership, leaders need to:


Consistently Inquire Into One’s Own Communication Style

To develop inclusive leadership, leaders need to observe and notice themselves in action before reflecting, engaging, and noticing again. By observing oneself at the same time as engaging with other people to inquire into the patterns, leaders are essentially creating and modelling through their communication.


Observe and Be Mindful

Being mindful that some people have been culturally raised not to be aggressive or that it's impolite to talk unless asked by the authority figure is vital for leaders hoping to create inclusive leadership. Leaders should notice and observe the dynamics playing within the team. They should pay particular attention if someone who could add value is being talked over or has not been given credit for their contributions.


Have Empathy and Compassion

Leaders should refrain from being judgemental if they wish to develop inclusive leadership. They should also refrain from ignoring co-workers who come to them with a complaint if someone says something inappropriate or racist to them. Inclusive leadership is to hear their story with empathy and compassion, be supportive, and inquire into what would be helpful.

Provide Constructive Feedback

If a leader believes that a certain behaviour of a colleague or teammate is not helpful for them, they should offer constructive feedback and coach them to find their own way to improve.


Be Story Tellers

By leading by example and being vulnerable, leaders can tell their own stories of struggle or certain stories which might help people connect. After all, people can relate to stories and feel connected.


Encourage Multiple Perspectives

Inclusive leadership celebrates the difference between people and is mindful of each person's conflicting ideas, perspectives, cultures, ethnicity, and identities. Leaders lead by example by acknowledging and respecting people as humans, as well as their opinions and ideas, regardless of who is presenting them.


Offer Psychological Safety

It is essential to make people feel psychologically safe by encouraging them to express themselves constantly. Inclusive leaders must notice and be mindful if an individual's vulnerability is being punished during meetings or in general, if certain people are being criticised, embarrassed, discouraged, silenced, shamed, or bullied.


Review Feedback

Be mindful that the feedback given by human resources about certain people could be biased. Be aware if one approach or behaviour is more encouraged, and some are being overlooked and discouraged because it favours a popular mindset.


Become Aware of What Is Not Being Said

Establish a system which encourages people to connect. This could include forums where people can talk about difficult issues. As some people are uncomfortable exposing their concerns openly, inclusive leadership can help people put forward their concerns.


To Conclude

Inclusive leadership invites others in and connects people through dialogue, proper communication, and respect. They commit to equal opportunity for all by being mindful of the systemic biases and practices which dehumanise a certain group of people. Inclusive leadership is committed to creating systems that support all the employees to adapt, grow and thrive working together.


Contact Us Today

At The Leadership Coaches, we hope this blog surrounding how to develop inclusive leadership has offered you some helpful advice and guidance.


If you would like to learn more about developing inclusive leadership, contact us today. Our team of experienced leadership coaches are on hand to support you and your people.


Written by leadership coach Navjeet.