The business case for diversity and inclusion in the workplace has long been established but going from that intention to making it an everyday reality begins with inclusive leadership.
For us, Inclusive Leadership is not simply role-modelling, but going further to open ourselves up as leaders and humans, finding connections and seeing opposing views as an opportunity rather than a clash.
Courage and inquiry
Setting out to be an inclusive leader takes courage. This is not an easy path, and requires honesty, vulnerability, and a determination never to simply accept what is – or to assume success has been achieved. We start by expressing and exploring our fears and being curious and engaging in the conversation – recognising that others may share our fears.
Talking about, enabling and valuing difference
Inclusion isn’t simply ‘including everyone’ but valuing and enabling difference. This allows space for innovation and creativity, which is essential for businesses to thrive and teams to succeed.
Inclusion, innovation and creativity is enabled by people being open and curious about difference and letting go of the ‘this is the right way’ thinking that can trap us. This begins with the leader but is encouraged and enabled across the team.
Finding common ground and human connections
Inclusive leadership finds its strength in teams where difference is expressed but through that common ground is established - creating a unity and strength of purpose that carries the team in the right direction yet uses difference to question, create and inspire. This frees us up from Group Think and allows fresh thinking to emerge.
Using integrative thinking to find answers in opposition
If difference is encouraged and valued, this can create oppositions – and inclusive leadership leans into and manages the tension between being similar enough to be included, but different enough to have impact.
At the heart of Inclusive Leadership, and indeed good leadership, is the ability to see how a leader’s team can be strengthened by difference and empowered by inclusion becoming the catalyst for leadership and team effectiveness that far exceeds the norm.