Inclusive Leadership Style

How inclusive of a leader are you?

Take this quiz to find out.

  1. A member of your team asks you how to tackle a project.  You say:
    1. Do it Just. Like. This.
    2. There are lots of possible approaches, but I’d do it like this.
    3. Hm. What were some of your ideas?

  2. A team member makes a valid point that questions your plan in a team meeting.  You respond:
    1. Nope – wrong. It’s totally fine.  Don’t question me.
    2. Well, that’s beyond our control. We have to do it that way. Big boss says so.
    3. Interesting point.  Let’s talk about that.
  3. The VP of your division publicly congratulates you on a project on which you and your team collaborated.  You say:
    1. Thanks! I’m AWESOME!
    2. Well, I had SOME help….
    3. It was a team effort – it wouldn’t have been possible without everyone working together.
  4. A member of your team suggests a radical solution that’s never been tried before. You say:
    1. Nope. That’s not how we do things here.
    2. You can try it, but if you fail, you’re on your own.
    3. Put together documentation on why this is a good idea, then get started. Keep me in the loop.
  5. Your department gets a high-profile project that is important to the organization and you personally, but well within the capabilities and expertise of the people on your team. You:
    1. Handle it yourself. You can’t trust anyone else with this.
    2. Delegate it – but micromanage it. Leave nothing to chance.
    3. Trust the people on your team to handle it. You hired good people. They know what they are doing.

If most of your answers were As, you need to give some serious thought to being more inclusive.
If most of your answers were Bs, you have some work to do – but you are headed in the right direction.
If most of your answers were Cs, congratulations – you are generally an inclusive leader.

But what does that mean?  Why is it valuable? How do you foster and demonstrate inclusiveness?

Inclusive Leadership Style
Inclusive leadership means not just accepting, but actively seeking out diverse viewpoints and making sure everyone on your team feels their voice is heard. It means not just paying lip service to concepts like equality and engagement, but actually implementing them and believing in them. Inclusive leaders ask people what they think, and they stop to listen to the answers.1

Why is it valuable?
Put very simply, inclusive leadership tends to build high-performing teams – by virtually any measurement, in any culture. In fact, in a recent Catalyst report that tallied responses from 1500 employees across 6 countries, the more included employees felt, the more innovative they felt at their jobs.2

How do you foster and demonstrate inclusiveness?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but there are certainly success stories. Mary Barra, the highest ranking official in the auto industry, has been known to conduct town-hall style meetings to get opinions from a broad cross-section of the company before rendering her final decision on issues.3 Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations, looks for humility and the ability to collaborate in new hires. Recent studies support the idea that intellectual humility may be a key leadership trait.4 And Nia Joynson-Romanzina of Swiss Re has embarked on a inclusiveness journey that has led to the development of a new three-pillared “global inclusion framework” she hopes will change the way the entire organization functions.5

In short: Inclusive leadership style is not just a buzz word or a bonus.  Leading inclusively is a necessity for every organization that wants to survive into the next decade.