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The Importance of Inclusive Leadership in the Workplace

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Photo by Manolo Chrétien on Unsplash

Become an inclusive leader by communicating better, exploring different perspectives, and expanding your thinking

The world is constantly changing all around us, and the global business industry is no exception. Specifically, professionals have seen significant shifts within the last decade in technology, the act of multi-tasking, and most importantly, an emphasis on enhancing workplace culture.

According to Deloitte Insights, there are four global “mega-trends” that are determining the new state of the modern business case.

  • Diversity of markets: the rise of the middle class and the new business opportunities that it presents
  • Diversity of customers: the new ways in which customers think and expect products and services to be delivered
  • Diversity of ideas: the impact of new technological advancements, the globalization that it enforces, and how it affects our way of thinking
  • Diversity of talent: the recognition of employees regardless of their demographics and the biases associated with them

These trends aren’t emerging – they’re here and they are taking hold of the professional realm at this moment. So how can you keep up with this rapid change?

Embracing the uniqueness of individuals is the solution to keeping up with this shifting environment. It is essential to incorporate inclusive diversity into the workplace and celebrate the individuals within your company. Your employees’ unique backgrounds and ways of thinking mirror the audiences that your business is catering to and should be harnessed into your business strategy.

But how is this feasible? Most leaders barely have any free time allotted in their busy schedules and it’s easy to get stuck catching up, instead of being forward-looking. However, without adapting to these mega-trends, you will inevitably fall behind. Simply being mindful of others during a meeting or spending five minutes to check in with an employee can go a long way.

Here are my tips for incorporating inclusion into your workplace regimen:

 

Communicate with everyone

First and foremost, as Bruce Stewart says in Six Signature Traits of Inclusive Leadership, leaders must lead from the middle of the circle, not at the top of the pyramid (Deloitte, 2016). Did you ever play the game “Telephone” as a kid? It’s a fun yet shocking portrayal of how communication can easily be misconstrued as it passes through multiple people.

Leadership acts in the same manner. It’s much easier to hear what everyone is saying when you are in a direct line of communication and it’s not getting filtered to the top. By listening clearly to more of your employees, you are leveraging group intelligence and celebrating their work as a team. (Here at FlashPoint, one of our values is that we work as a team, and it shows!)

 

Consider various perspectives

When accounting for the diverse thinking of your employees, you are able to gain multiple perspectives and opinions. This is important because whole teams are much more successful than a fragmented group, and the decisions your team makes are not solely based on only a few people’s ways of thinking. In order to treat individuals fairly based on the unique characteristics that they possess and not on their possible perpetuated stereotypes, ask yourself, “How can I use each person’s strengths to create an advantage for the whole team?”.

 

Broaden your mindset

To be able to see from multiple perspectives, it’s essential that you have a global mindset. This could encapsulate the many cultures, traditions, and ways of thinking that are celebrated in our world.

However, a global mindset should be applied to your business too. What can you learn from other divisions of your company? Are there any cross-functional opportunities that you can implement into your system, or ways to get feedback from members of other areas of the business? To shift your mindset, you must first ask questions, listen to the answers you are given, internalize these answers, and continue to keep them in mind even after the conversation is over and your work continues. Although you may not see any boundaries or solutions in an area, others may feel differently. Sometimes, in order to implement inclusion and diversity in your workplace, you must challenge systems that feel comfortable to you and that are already in place. These challenges may consist of societal functions, how others operate, and even the biases that you currently possess.

You can follow all of these steps to implement inclusion in your workplace, but you will never be successful until you get serious. If you are simply seeking to check inclusion off a list, improvements won’t last.

Statistics may help people understand ideas on rational terms, but we are more easily influenced emotionally. Employees will support and engage with a genuine leader – be authentic in your initiatives and make inclusion a real priority in your daily life. Lead with not just your head but with your heart. Only then will your organization see true progress, more consistent communication, and brighter ideas from their team.

 

Inclusive leadership simply means listening to everyone. Every leader can use eloquent words to please others, but great leaders take into account everyone’s perspectives before taking action. Give employees the opportunity to showcase their unique skills. Without this chance, many great ideas may be ignored. Flatten your pyramid and stand in the middle of your team so that you can get a clear visualization of every employee. As a leader, why would you want to stand by yourself at the top if you knew you could take your team to even greater heights together?


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Kaylynn Cline

Kaylynn Cline Kaylynn is FlashPoint's digital media marketing coordinator. She engages FlashPoint's audiences with video, social media graphics, web graphics, and more.

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