The most successful businesses create multidisciplinary teams that combine the collective capabilities of different people: women and men, people with different cultural heritage, and younger and older workers. However, with such a diverse range of people and personalities, it can be difficult to ensure all team members are managed in a way that ensures optimum performance. The key is to create a management team that assure all team members are inspired, treated respectfully and fairly, and feel like they are valued by the organisation. This is known as inclusive leadership.
Inclusiveness directly enhances performance. According to research from the Harvard Business Review, teams with inclusive leaders are 17% more likely to report that they are high performing, 20% more likely to say they make high-quality decisions, and 29% more likely to report collaborative behaviour.
Businesses with inclusive leaders are seeing the benefits. The following are some of the traits that are common to inclusive leaders.
- Commitment to Diversity: Inclusive leaders are focused on diversity and will not only challenge the status quo themselves but also encourage other employees to prioritise diversity and inclusion.
- Awareness of Bias: Inclusive leaders focus on implementing a culture of meritocracy, ensuring their own personal biases, and those of others in the business, do not impact decision making.
- Curiosity About People: With an open mind and interest in others, inclusive leaders are non-judgemental and interact with empathy.
- Humility: Inclusive leaders are modest about their own skills. They will admit to their mistakes and create a culture where other team members feel comfortable contributing.
- Collaboration: With a focus on team cohesion, inclusive leaders value others, empowering them to contribute and ensuring a range of opinions are heard.
- Cultural Intelligence: Inclusive leaders are attentive to other cultures and can adjust to suit other cultural requirements.
The Benefits of Inclusive Leadership
1. Unlocking Employee Potential
Inclusive leaders are fair and respectful, encourage collaboration, and value different ideas and opinions, which creates a culture where team members can excel. They tap into each employee’s potential, which leads to a more effective team.
With a focus on cultural diversity, inclusive leaders are particularly effective in managing traditionally underrepresented groups who often face barriers to their professional development. Inclusive leaders mentor these individuals to equip them with the insights, strategies, and tools to drive their development and perform to the best of their ability.
By attracting and nurturing high-quality talent from pools that may not have been previously tapped into, inclusive leaders create a more talented team with a variety of perspectives and experiences. This range of opinions can help with solving problems and developing initiatives that more homogenous teams may not be able to.
2. Developing Collective Intelligence
Diversity only creates better results for business if the team is managed well. Diverse teams have a wide range of personalities and differing experiences, and without effective leadership, they can become chaotic, which results in lower levels of productivity, decreased engagement, and higher turnover.
Inclusive leaders must determine how to avoid the disruption and conflict that can arise as a result of the different perspectives, experiences, backgrounds, ways of thinking, and communication styles in the team. The key to success in a diverse team is a self-aware leader with the skills to leverage differences within the team and use them to their own advantage in order to achieve better performance cohesively.
3. Driving Business Innovation & Growth
Several different studies have been carried out to determine the relationship between diversity and inclusion on business performance, and the results are unanimous: a diverse and inclusive team benefits business performance.
Inclusive leaders are the key to unlocking this competitive advantage, as they make it their responsibility to drive the business in the direction of equality, inclusiveness, and diversity. They are the members of the organisation who are focused on designing protocols and strategies that will unlock the potential of all employees. Inclusive leaders drive the long-term strategy of the business through backing diversity initiatives, championing a culture of meritocracy, and acting as role models for both employees and other leaders in the organisation. Inclusive leaders are the key to strategic business growth and success.
Due to the clear benefits that inclusive leaders bring to an organisation, the demand for inclusive leadership at all levels of businesses is growing steadily. The attributes of inclusive leaders have been clearly defined and can be measured, coached, and developed, which means people can learn how to turn their good intentions into impact, and create authentically inclusive teams and environments for all to succeed.
The Inclusive Leadership Collective (ILC) program helps participants create the future rather than predict it. It aims to support members to create conditions for optimism, shared purpose and belonging. Find out more about how you can empower your leaders to create an inclusive culture for your organisation today.