What Do We Mean by Practising Inclusive Leadership?

Inclusive leadership is a style of leading by example, acknowledging the individuality of all employees and making everyone feel comfortable and able to bring their full selves to work.

Inclusive leadership involves consistent reflection and practice. While keeping room for mistakes along the learning curve, leaders need to create equal opportunities for growth and progress.

Simply put, it could mean any or all of the following things:

1.   Incorporate Inclusion at Every Step

Always prioritise inclusion in every relationship and business decision. When leaders become role models, they are able to set an example for the workforce and influence company culture.

Go one step further and add inclusion as a core principle of your business strategy.Practice Inclusive hiring, ensure fair and equal hiring processes and map candidates for skills instead of culture fit.

2.   Prove to Be an Ally to Your Team

As a leader, demonstrate your commitment by showing up, sharing your experiences and listening carefully to different views. Always be engaged, present and mindful of others. Encourage transparent feedback and communication from your employees. Be instrumental in creating an environment where employees feel psychologically safe to voice their views.

 Take the time to understand your employees’ unique strengths and skills. Some may be good orators while others may be innovative thinkers. Use your insights to create a more supportive environment for your team.

 Consider offering additional flexibility in terms of work-from-home opportunities and tele-commuting. Encourage your team to leverage modern technology for added work flexibility. Practise active leadership and motivate your employees to participate in team bonding activities. This will foster business skills and strengthen interpersonal relationships.

 3.   Encourage Authentic, Open Conversations about Inclusion

 The new management adage suggests that conversations need to be colour-brave and not colour-blind. Leaders can conduct respectful conversations to discuss sensitive subjects in an open manner to build stronger empathy among their teams.

 Here are a few important tips that can help leaders hold authentic conversations:

  • Listen with an open mind: This helps leaders understand and process information in unbiased, mature ways. It can also dramatically change the way leaders engage with their teams.
  • Share your experiences: Tell your story honestly without holding back. Your employees will feel increasingly confident to voice their opinions.
  • Build a transparent culture: Create a platform that is transparent and comfortable for employees to come forward with grievances, feedback and suggestions. Practice consistency in communications. For example, you may want to consider holding informal meetings every Friday afternoon.
  • Emphasise accountability and problem resolution: Everyone makes mistakes and its important to own them. Treat these situations as learning points and encourage employees to move forward in positive ways.

Inclusive leadership workshops can greatly assist in laying the groundwork for an inclusive culture across the entire leadership spectrum of the organisation. Symmetra has developed specialised and dedicated online tools which measure the degree of inclusivity at all levels of the organisation. Use of these tools will reveal where individuals show strong inclusive behaviours and where there is room for improvement.