Become an Inclusive Leader in the New Year
January 5, 2023
The events precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, now known as the "Great Resignation" have shone a new light on the role of leadership in business. It is now clear that millions of people across the nation are looking more closely at how they feel in their workplace. This includes the quality of relationships with supervisors and coworkers, the potential for new opportunities, and their general level of contentment. We know that this impacts our members, especially those who employ small, tightly-knit teams.
So, how do we work on keeping our teams together, retaining the skills and knowledge that each individual brings? Part of the solution could be inclusive leadership.
What is Inclusive Leadership?
Inclusive leadership is where leaders ensure that all their team members:
- Feel a sense of value and belonging
- Are treated fairly and equitably
- Are provided with the resources they need to thrive and succeed
An inclusive leader will be aware of their biases and will seek out other perspectives different from their own to inform decisions and allow closer collaboration. However, there must be a real commitment to the process, or employees will quickly become disengaged.
Fostering an Inclusive Culture
The first step to fostering an inclusive culture is trust. Managers and business owners need to trust that their team members have the skills to do their jobs and create successful outcomes. Avoiding micromanagement is crucial here - continually checking up on employees erodes trust quickly.
The next step is empowerment, allowing your employees to work on new projects that build their skillset and enable them to explore their potential. Having a good knowledge of your team's skills will allow you to put people together with complementary skills.
3 Traits of an Inclusive Leader
If you don't have them already, incorporating these three traits into your leadership approach is vital to developing inclusive leadership.
To make a difference as an inclusive leader, you need to display absolute integrity and be aligned with your organization's core beliefs and values.
Managing performance is more than simply checking up on your staff to ensure they're doing their jobs properly. Instead, inclusive leaders use coaching and focused training initiatives to influence their teams and bring out the best in them.
A vital part of an inclusive leader's task is ensuring that everyone is working toward the organization's overall strategic plan. They accomplish this by ensuring that the entire team is focused and working together to achieve the outcomes outlined in that plan.
Bringing the Generations Together
A significant challenge for the inclusive leader is bringing together the working ethics of different age groups within the workplace. For example, those from the baby boomer generation generally have tendencies to prefer working within strictly structured systems, Millenials and Gen Z want to find value in their work and prefer more flexible approaches, while Gen Xers are happy somewhere in between. The best inclusive leaders can listen to all groups and tie their strengths together.
The greatest strengths of the inclusive leader are listening, strategizing and organizing. If you can listen to and learn something from each of your employees, you can better strategize and organize to have everyone working together in a harmonious team. With these approaches, productivity and employee retention will naturally improve.