Inclusive leadership is a leadership style that emphasizes an organizational culture where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to contribute to the organization’s success. Inclusive leaders are those who make people feel like they are in the right place and have a sense of belonging. These leaders value the diversity of experiences and perspectives of their team, encouraging collaboration.
The behaviors of inclusive leaders
Inclusive leaders are also the ones who encourage everyone to share opinions during every meeting. In contrast, those who only hear the ideas of those with the loudest voices and those who are most confident in sharing them are not as inclusive.
Diverse teams, including those with cultural differences and diverse religious and even age perspectives, are much better at solving problems than more homogenous groups. Inclusive leaders recognize this and encourage the sharing of opposing ideas, while less-than-good leaders seek consensus around a single point of view.
Inclusive leaders listen to team members’ questions and concerns when a new project or long-term task begins. Those leaders who do not include everyone in their decisions only show the direction and expect action.
The Traits of an Inclusive Leader
The first trait of inclusive leaders is commitment. They are committed to diversity and inclusion for the long term because they see the benefits in terms of more innovation, higher profits and a stronger employer brand, but they recognize the difficulties of making real change.
Inclusive leaders are aware. They take into account their personal conscious biases and actively work to eradicate unconscious ones.
A hallmark of inclusive leaders is curiosity. Curiosity is necessary to build team cultures that are open to continuous learning, feedback and challenging the status quo.
They must have cultural intelligence. Inclusive leaders adapt to different cultures and implement plans in different environments and demographics. Cultural intelligence can refer literally to cultural differences in the case of a multinational company, or interpreted more abstractly to how different teams approach problems in different ways.
Inclusive leaders are collaborative. They appreciate the value of individual viewpoints, but also recognize the power of bringing different ideas together to create a good overall result.
Last but not least, inclusive leaders are courageous. They must have the courage to challenge the status quo and be vulnerable about their strengths and weaknesses.