Leaders have a responsibility and expectation for creating cultures and environments that foster and promote inclusion. This has nothing to do with any Diversity and Inclusion initiatives and everything to do with having a good leadership style. If a leader is unable to do this in today’s environment focused on Diversity and Inclusion, they likely never will integrate inclusion into their leadership style.
Inclusive leadership relies on the principle that differences and diversity are valuable to an organization when it comes to problem-solving, leadership development, and serving its customer base. Organizations stuck in the false sense of security of sameness will eventually find the disadvantages and challenges of keeping things the same.
There is an overwhelming amount of variety and diversity to be integrated and included in organizations today, it seems more than ever before in the history of business.
Inclusive leaders have the ability to tap into the diversity of gender, generations, career experiences, country of origin, educational background, life experiences, military veterans, sexual orientation, industries, and thought; to name just a few.
The point is that the days of leaders creating teams of leaders who are the same must be numbered for organizations to reap the benefits of the Diversity and Inclusion momentum.
A key responsibility for an inclusive leader is to find ways to include, grow, and develop leaders. The base of leaders who value Diversity and Inclusion must be increased for the impact to feel effective. Leaders who expand the population of inclusive leaders are creating an impact that lasts well beyond their tenure.
While there are ample examples of the advantages of being an inclusive leader, unfortunately, there are factors that tend to impede the actual execution of including others. Inclusive leaders may have good intentions only to realize, or not, that they have biases that influence their decision-making process.
Inclusive leaders are not immune from unconscious bias and may very well fall victim to their own unexamined prejudices. Could it be agism, racism? sexism? or some other ism that prevents them from being an inclusive leader. This is when a mentor or coach is invaluable in supporting a leader through some reflective sessions.
Another factor that might very well influence an inclusive leader in not being as inclusive as possible is their ego. It seems a forgone conclusion that every leader, for that matter every person, has an ego that they are in a relationship with. Each relationship is uniquely defined and difficult to examine and reboot.
For some people, the ego is there to protect them and it does a good job of protecting us from change. When we perceive there is a change coming, the ego might go into defense mode thinking it can alter its course, this is rarely the outcome.
The ego typically feels safest when things are the same, and we already established keeping things the same presents a set of challenges for both the short and long term. The ego must be put in the role of supporting the individual’s mission otherwise its misalignment will derail any progress an inclusive leader hopes to make inning more inclusive.
All too often leaders are reinforced for having power and control. Neither of these are conducive to making changes that include diversifying a team. Leaders who are more into being told yes than creating a team of critical and individual thinkers are threatened by diversity. Leaders must be held accountable to transform their unique leadership style as often as necessary, reinventing your leadership style relies on the iterative principle for creating successful outcomes.
A significant piece of work to be completed within the Diversity and Inclusion space is, in the development of leaders who see the value and benefits of inclusion more differences in their organizations. This will likely not happen by a magic wand or potion, it is only through dedicated support from a mentor or coach that a leader might transform the fundamentals of their leadership style.
The Diversity and Inclusion leadership globally has a responsibility to its professional mission to support this level of growth to achieve results that currently being ignored. When each leader sees the difference they can make in being more inclusive and they do it, they are modeling it for those who are not ready to dip a toe in the water. Those who dive in headfirst must make way for those to take a more cautious approach.
Together the diversity of approaches to becoming a more inclusive leader can serve to achieve the greater goals and objectives for the Diversity and Inclusion global community.
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