Different Layers of Diversity: Developing Inclusive Leadership (Part 2)

With the impact of globalisation, turbulence, complexity, uncertainty and diversity, there is a need for a new approach to leadership.

Nowadays, a great leader is the one who views leadership as being characterised by collaborative decision-making, active listening and engagement with multiple stakeholders to fully motivate, inspire and lead change in their organisations.

In the previous article, we have made a case for why inclusive leadership matters. This article highlights steps that can help your organisation develop inclusive behaviours for individuals, teams, and groups of leaders.

Step 1: Identify existing problems

The very first step in developing inclusive leaders is to gather diversity and inclusion data that reveals biases about the employee life cycle that leaders might not otherwise be aware of. 

During the investigation, use data sources such as employees’ surveys and qualitative feedback from customers, suppliers, or teams. Other valuable metrics include representation, retention, recruitment, employee engagement, or productivity. 

With a clear picture of your diversity risks and opportunities, you will be better placed to develop a compelling business case to engage your leaders in cultural change.

Step 2: Build a strong business case

Full buy-in from your leadership team requires a clear link between diversity and inclusion and business outcomes. Ensuring that leaders clearly understand associated benefits, makes them more motivated to drive diversity and inclusion initiatives, and their efforts and commitment are more authentic, meaningful, and sustainable. 

Building a robust business case takes time but is necessary to secure a commitment from the top.

Step 3: Engage leaders in change efforts

The best results of inclusive leadership development occur when organisations move beyond conceptual conversations about inclusion. 

As managers and leaders may not be aware of the actual experiences of employees, it is imperative to have conversations with individuals at different levels of the organisation to better understand the realities of corporate life. This is also a great way to create an emotional connection that fosters empathy and increased motivation for change. 

This kind of mindset shift is critical to how leaders think about inclusion and how inclusive they behave.

Step 4: Transform the perception of leadership

In the past, leaders often were associated with values such as determination, courage and a singular focus on the task at hand, which is an implicit expectation of infallibility that is not realistic. 

On the other hand, inclusive leadership requires the ability to recognise both strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. These leaders dare to admit their wrong-doing and acknowledge that increasing diversity means facing experiences they have never had before. 

Traditional leadership strategies, like command and control and attempted omniscience, might be what leaders believe got them to where they are today. Still, an inclusive leader must prioritise humility and lead from a place of enquiry, curiosity, and active listening.

Step 5: Provide formal training on inclusive leadership

Once leaders understand the need for diversity and inclusion in their organisation and are motivated to advance it, the next step is to provide the knowledge and skills needed to foster diversity and inclusion through formal inclusive leadership training. 

As part of the inclusive leadership training, leaders should be encouraged to reflect on the organisation’s real-life data, identify challenges and opportunities facing their particular business unit, and develop an action plan to address existing issues. Then, explore and define specific inclusive leadership behaviours introduced during the workshop to practice back in the work environment.

Step 6: Create a work environment open for discussion

Facilitated learning opportunities must provide a safe space for individuals to explore and challenge the construct of inclusive leadership; encourage leaders to share experiences of inclusive and exclusionary behaviour (inside or outside the workplace) to bring it to life.

From a team perspective, it can be an incredibly powerful tool to engage in this development together as a shared and collaborative experience that helps address challenges that may have never been raised or dealt with before. Ultimately, each leader can unlock even more potential in their team’s effectiveness.

Step 7: Establish accountability

The last step is to create a formal plan for measuring the outcome of your investment in inclusive leadership development – what metrics will be calculated, by whom, and how often? 

Once targets or other goals are established, responsibility for achieving them should be assigned to individuals held accountable through performance management tools.

How ABN Resource help with inclusive leadership

The ABN Resource recruitment methodology is based on the candidate delivery platform that incorporates psychometrics, behavioural & aptitude assessment. In this way, we provide our clients with valuable insight into applicants’ strengths and potential derailers, including their leadership potential.

If you would like to learn more about how ABN Resource can help you hire inclusive leaders, speak to one of our team experts