How to Become a More Inclusive Leader

 

Companies increasingly rely on diverse, multidisciplinary teams that combine the collective capabilities of women and men, people of different cultural heritage, and younger and older workers.

But simply throwing a mix of people together doesn’t guarantee high performance; it requires inclusive leadership — leadership that assures that all team members feel they are treated respectfully and fairly, are valued and sense that they belong, and are confident and inspired.

Research involving 3,500 ratings by employees of 450 leaders found that inclusive leaders share six behaviors: visible commitment, humility, awareness of bias, curiosity about others, cultural intelligence, and effective collaboration.

It takes energy and deliberate effort to create an inclusive culture, and that starts with leaders paying much more attention to what they say and do on a daily basis.

 

These six behaviors ensure that everyone feels respected, valued, and inspired:

1. Show your commitment

  • Challenge the status quo

  • Hold others accountable

  • Make inclusion a personal priority

2. Practice humility

  • Be modest about your capabilities

  • Admit your mistakes

  • Create space for others to contribute

3. Know your biases

  • Be aware of your blind spots

  • Identify flaws in the system

  • Work hard to ensure meritocracy


4. Be curious about others

  • Demonstrate an open mindset

  • Listen without judgment

  • Show empathy

5. Learn about cultural differences

  • Be attentive to others’ cultures

  • Adapt your behavior when necessary

  • Value new perspectives

6. Encourage collaboration

  • Empower others

  • Pay attention to their mind-state

  • Focus on team cohesion

 

Adapted from “Why Inclusive Leaders Are Good for Organizations, and How to Become One” by Juliet Bourke and Andrea Espedido.