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Team Effectiveness

Five Ways To Identify Inclusive Leaders

Five Ways To Identify Inclusive Leaders

Building A Diverse Environment With Respect

We live in a diverse world, and workplaces should reflect that. Inclusive leaders foster an environment where every individual feels valued, respected, and included, regardless of background. Identifying inclusive leaders is a key step in building environments that thrive on diversity and innovation, concepts that are foundational to the success of any organization.

What Does Inclusion Really Mean in the Workplace?

In a recent sales study conducted by Linkedin, respondents acknowledged that diversity, equity, and inclusion are not only highly valued in an organization, but also a direct indicator of success. The study found that "72% of salespeople believe that DEI will play an equally important or more important role in business decisions in the next two years," and over "60% of respondents said that diversity within their sales team has contributed to their teams’ success."

This study’s findings, like many others, reaffirm that inclusion is key to a workplace. However, simply creating a diverse, more inclusive organization through targeted hiring practices is not the only answer.

A word of caution: diversity hiring has often been associated with tokenism, the idea that organizations simply hire and include individuals that “check a box.” When organizations only hire employees to appear diverse, employees begin to feel isolated and disempowered, thus creating an unengaged and inauthentic work environment.

It's important to note that not every workplace that has practices diversity hiring has ill intentions. In some cases, the company may genuinely value inclusion and diversity but has yet to implement effective strategies to achieve it.

Consider this quote by Harvard Business Review:

“Leaders must acknowledge that increasing demographic diversity does not, by itself, increase effectiveness; what matters is how an organization harnesses diversity, and whether it’s willing to reshape its power structure.”

An inclusive workplace is somewhere employees feel valued, involved, and respected for the viewpoints, ideas, perspectives, and experiences they bring. Inclusive leaders foster these concepts, connecting with each employee on a personal level, ensuring they’re an integral part of the organization and actively contributing to the betterment of it.

When it comes to inclusivity, it really boils down to the people—the leaders—that shape the culture of the organization.

Get the Right People in the Right Seats

Can you imagine a workplace where everyone’s opinion is heard, valued, and celebrated, and where every member of your team feels like they belong to the bigger picture?

Thankfully, this is a reality for many organizations (and a goal for some) who have actively invested in finding good people to lead their teams, creating a culture where ideas flow, collaboration is celebrated, and innovation is second nature. Inclusive leaders understand that diversity means more than hiring unique people—it means creating a welcoming culture of openness that is led by example.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to inclusive leadership, but a diverse set of skills and virtues. However, three key characteristics of an inclusive leader are:

  • Emotional Intelligence: Leaders with high emotional intelligence are better at managing their emotions and are better able to accurately read emotions in others. Leaders with a high EQ have better organizational awareness, they enhance teamwork through influence, conflict management, and coaching, and they provide and promote psychological safety at work.
  • Open-mindedness: Inclusive leaders embrace diversity of thought, welcoming different perspectives and challenging their own beliefs. Their open-mindedness fosters a culture where employees feel free to express their ideas without fear of judgment.
  • Effective Communication: Communication is a cornerstone of inclusive leadership. Inclusive leaders are skilled communicators who listen actively, ask thoughtful questions, and provide clear and constructive feedback. To an inclusive leader, everyone has a voice. Companies benefit from improved workplace communication with increased productivity and operational effectiveness, while individuals benefit with increased morale, commitment, and productivity. 

Enlightened, brilliant leaders know that they personally don’t need to be the hero. They know that success—in changing markets, with savvy customers, in innovation, and in attracting and developing talent—requires a different style of leadership. Coach and Facilitator, Linda Dausend lists five scenarios that help identify inclusive leaders:

  1. Solving problems: When a team member runs into a problem and asks for advice, an inclusive leader doesn’t provide the answer or even suggestions. Instead, that leader asks the team member what solutions they have in mind.
  2. Enlisting others: When the leader has a new idea for a product or service but doesn’t know how to best approach it, an inclusive leader encourages the team to come up with ways to best implement the idea or even provide new ones.
  3. Enabling others to act: When a team member comes up with a new idea and they are excited about it, an inclusive leader lets them try it. The inclusive leader will ask that person to keep them in the loop and work with him or her to create a compelling argument in favor of the project so that person can present the idea to others and the leader can have the knowledge to support the work.
  4. Admitting failures: When something doesn’t work, the inclusive leader admits it didn’t work and collaborates with the team to find out what could have been done differently.
  5. Recognizing contributions: When everyone talks about a great decision that was made and colleagues congratulate the leader’s work, the inclusive leader says, “I can’t take all the credit – my team worked hard to make it happen and I’m really proud of them.”
Embracing inclusivity not only fosters a sense of belonging among team members, but also unlocks a wealth of perspectives, ideas, and talents. Inclusive leaders recognize and celebrate differences, creating an environment where everyone feels valued and heard.

With better psychological safety, every leader, employee, or team member can contribute, challenge, and bring the best of themselves to your organization. Psychological safety training is a proven tactic for creating engaged teams who trust one another, commit to common goals, and achieve bottom-line results. Follow the link below to explore how psychological safety can positively impact your leaders, teams, and organizations:

Learn More About FlashPoint's Psychological Safety Offerings

Kara Janssen

Kara Janssen creates engaging content that connects our clients to the FlashPoint brand and mission, helping them grow as leaders.