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What do Inclusive Leaders do Differently?

Executives are increasingly acknowledging that inclusiveness is connected with talent management and overall business success. With this in mind, it’s a no-brainer that executive recruitment is more and more aligned to sourcing for leaders who are inclusive, and who keep polishing their inclusivity skills. These are leaders who are always innovating and looking for new, and exciting ways to enhance inclusion. In a nutshell, these are leaders who do things differently.


Inclusive leaders build into every process, the expectation that every decision, big or small, must be made inclusively. They call on openness and transparency in processes and reach out to team members to provide their input, and contribution to the decision. They know and acknowledge that they, though playing the role of a leader, are part of a team and they ensure to always put the team first. Inclusive leaders appreciate that decisions collectively made as a team have valuable diverse input leading to superior outcomes. Some of the leading research on key traits of inclusive leaders has been done by organizations such as the Confederation of British Industry, Gartner Research & Advisory, Chartered Management Institute, and Michael Page. Organizations such as Gartner Research have done notable research studies on leadership frameworks and they derive insights to equip executives on how to make strategic decisions and stay ahead of the change. These types of research inform and inspire me to look out for this kind of insights and share the same in my articles. Through these articles, I strive to make my mark on the narratives that define leadership, diversity & inclusion and many other topics that you will be excited to read in my other articles.


What else do inclusive leaders do differently? A LOT MORE. They show great integrity, and always strive to settle conflict productively and objectively. They are masters of handling conflicts in a way that everyone involved comes out feeling that the problem was resolved amicably and respectfully. These leaders are impartial, and ensure that team members are held accountable to be fair to one another. Funny as it may seem, inclusive leaders are also able to leverage conflict for the better good of the team, ensuring it’s used positively to enhance team cohesion and inclusiveness.


Another trait that sets inclusive leaders apart, is the ability to liberate their team members to be decision-makers. They enable their teams to stretch resources, and processes, to achieve the collective mission and vision. To accomplish this, inclusive leaders invite diverse team members to open conversations. These open conversations then become a tool the leaders use to get team members’ perspectives on the work environment and collect suggestions on where things can be done differently. But, remember, for a leader to inviting and accommodating to this kind of open discussions, they have to be the kind of leaders who are comfortable, open to criticism, and ready to effect change, even if the change is on them.


Inclusive leaders go a step further to be role models. They listen to and act on the same advice they share with team members. They follow due process. And as we can all say, “They walk the talk”! Inclusive leaders lead the pack in showing discipline and adherence – and they flawlessly amass a voluntary following from the team. Why? Because they led by example.


What does an inclusive leader do when they err? You guessed it right, they self-correct. When they make a mistake, they are open enough to own up to it, and course-correct to get back on track. This way, those soldering behind them, become comfortable enough to know that, everyone is human, mistakes can be made, what is key thing is to correct the mistake and rail back. This builds confidence, and courage within the team, consequently attaining team growth, both personally and professionally. In return, don’t these same team members dedicate their energy, skills and knowledge to making the organization successful? YES, THEY DO!.


Let’s all agree that all the above traits cannot really work long-term unless there is accountability. And this is where long-range inclusive leaders thrive and excel. Any leader who instils accountability within themselves and the team has mastered the art of outliving their inclusivity legacy. By continually tracking progress on inclusion goals, inclusive leaders ensure that inclusivity is woven into the organisational culture. This is what really seals long-term accountability, and drive to progress inclusiveness within the organisation.


In conclusion, we all concur that inclusive leaders know the importance of infusing an inclusive culture into the core of the organisation. These leaders know that inclusion should live on way past the time they leave the organisation. And this is the ultimate goal – that an inclusive leader nurtures an inclusive environment in a way that others are inspired to keep that legacy alive long after the leader exits! This is the definitive measure of what sets inclusive leaders apart. This is what inclusive leaders do differently. This is how inclusive leaders leave a lasting mark and legacy of inclusiveness!


“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr

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