Inclusive practices have become a transformative tool for businesses today. But how can companies become effective in implementing such practices in their organization? Here, an inclusive leader is pivotal. They should be someone who actively develops an inclusive work culture that fosters equality, respect, and empathy across teams. The characteristics of an inclusive leader include curiosity and openness as well as the ability to identify and value different perspectives while implementing inclusive practices to foster better workplace dynamics. Let’s understand how leaders can hone these abilities and set the tone for the rest of the organization. But first, a little more about why inclusive practices are important for companies.
Why is Inclusion Vital Right Now in Companies
Inclusive practices hold the power to bring diverse teams together, unlock collective intelligence, and transform the future of how organizations operate. According to Deloitte, inclusive leadership leads to a 17% increase in team performance, a 20% improvement in decision-making, and a 29% increase in team collaboration. However, when an employee’s needs are acknowledged, respected, and validated, it helps them perform better at work, enhances motivation, and leads to better employee retention rates.
If you are inspired and want to become a more inclusive leader, here is a five-step guide to help you on this journey.
5 Steps to Become a More Inclusive Leader in 2023
It is safe to say that diversity has become a non-negotiable aspect of the present work environment and leaders need to be prepared to embrace it. To do that, it becomes imperative to develop a clear picture of what it means to create an inclusive space that also optimizes workflow. In essence, success comes in tandem with inclusivity. But can you become an inclusive leader by just demonstrating an inclusive mindset? Now, that is a great starting point but it is only the first step toward resetting workplace dynamics.
If you’re ready to use inclusivity at the workplace as a tool for transformation, here are five crucial steps to take note of:
1. Identify Personal Biases and be Conscious
To become an inclusive leader, it is important to identify and cultivate awareness around your biases. Sometimes, it can be challenging to examine your blind spots or recognize behaviors that may be inhibiting inclusion. To learn more about your personal biases, consider taking up the Implicit Association Test that has been designed by Harvard researchers to get feedback on your vulnerabilities and how they could be impacting your decisions at work.
Besides that, try to develop a ‘seeking-to-understand’ mentality, almost as a beginner would. This will help you build empathy towards team members and make key decisions more consciously.
2. Lead with Humility and Empathy
One of the main ingredients for creating a safe and inclusive work environment is empathy. Exhibiting empathy towards team members helps them feel acknowledged and valued, enhances collaboration, improves performance, boosts involvement, and encourages them to demonstrate a more open mindset.
Along with that, as a leader, being modest about your capabilities and gentle with your power is important. When you mindfully curate a safe workspace to discuss any errors made, share feedback, or offer constructive criticism respectfully, it automatically contributes to building an inclusive team.
3. Seek and Appreciate Different Perspectives
A competent and inclusive leader’s strength lies in their diversification approach. Essentially, one cannot become an inclusive leader if one doesn’t take the time to understand the unique perspectives of different employees within your organization.
A good way to put this into action would be to seek out ideas and opinions from different team members regarding upcoming tasks or projects that you may be working on. This will help you develop an open mind, expand your knowledge around different ways of doing things, and create a more collaborative environment at work.
4. Create a Safe Space for Your Team to Share and Collaborate
An inclusive leader must create a supportive environment that encourages honest communication, productivity, and collaboration among team members. This means you must develop a workspace that provides equal access to opportunities and empowers employees to bring out their best potential and share their perspectives without inhibitions.
When you show employees that their opinions are considered, and their perspective is crucial to the team’s success, it instantly creates a supportive, collaborative environment. In essence, inclusive leaders understand that a collaborative space is a major step towards rewiring the system to develop more inclusive organizations.
5. Foster Awareness
As an inclusive leader, you should also educate team members on what it means to have an inclusive workspace and how it can optimize workflow. In addition, fostering awareness and a strong commitment to inclusion will help you challenge the status quo and create a safe environment for others to speak up.
It is also essential for an inclusive leader to be self-aware at all times, analyze their leadership style and understand their advantages and privileges that others may not have. Moreover, this will help you lead with empathy and make informed decisions.
Making inclusivity a part of your lifestyle, not just your profession, will help you become a competent, inclusive leader and inspire others to follow suit. If you want to strengthen your abilities as an inclusive leader, check out online leadership courses on Emeritus and take your skills to the next level.
By Neha Menon
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