Inclusive leaders use a proactive approach that encourages full engagement, welcomes contributions from everyone, and appreciates diversity. Inclusive leaders aim at valuing the individuality of each employee, showing respect to everyone, and instilling trust and confidence so that everyone feels fully part of the team.
The key areas of focus for determining if someone is an inclusive leader are: practicing self-awareness, building strong relationships, promoting psychological safety, combating unconscious bias and sharing a common vision.
Consistent inclusive leadership efforts eventually help create an inclusive culture that is able to maximise every employee’s potential. Diversity and inclusion e-learning initiatives can help leaders gain the respect of their teams and deliver tangible business results.
Self-Awareness and Inclusive Leadership
Effective leadership consists of a complex set of strategies and skills. However, one trait is common regardless of the industry or organisation: Self-Awareness.
83% of self-aware leaders are top performers.
Self-awareness is defined as awareness of one’s own character or personality. Although the definition seems fairly straightforward, developing self-awareness is harder than it sounds. Leaders become self-aware through effort and willingness. Self-awareness is a key ingredient for developing emotional intelligence or the ability to manage emotions in yourself and in others.
The ability to be aware of one’s own emotions as well as the prevailing circumstances (situational awareness) improves a person’s skills as an inclusive leader. Most importantly, self-awareness helps leaders become more aware of their unconscious biases, actions, and thoughts.
Unconscious bias e-learning workshops can help them take steps to reduce the harmful effects of these biases.
Tips to Develop Self-Awareness
Be Mindful of Your Feelings
As you experience feelings of anger, frustration, happiness, or excitement, try to acknowledge them and admit to others that you are just as subject to emotions as others are. Try to avoid making important decisions when you are stressed or when you feel your emotions might cloud your judgment.
Ask for Feedback
The best way to understand ourselves better is to ask others for feedback. Request honest feedback from your colleagues and team members about how you ‘come across’ in different situations. Do you sound arrogant, brash or patronising? Do you seem insensitive or oblivious to the needs of your team? Feedback can help us recognise how our emotions and feelings affect other people.
Gain Insights into Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Based on the feedback you receive, examine yourself and your feelings with an open mind. Do you need to tone down your energy levels while speaking to others? Is your assertive way of communication making diverse team members nervous?
Do you offer more criticism than praise? Learn to become aware of things you need to improve on and the things you’re already doing right.
Keep Your Mind Open to New Insights
Mental blocks and unconscious bias can keep you from developing an open mind. Inclusive leaders are more open to new ideas, information and fresh approaches to doing things. By welcoming new inputs, you not only support your own growth and development but also gain the trust of your team.
For instance, you may be alert and fresh in the mornings but others may feel more responsive at different times of the day.
It may be a good idea to hold brainstorming sessions at different times of the day instead of always in the morning.
Keep a Journal
The biggest barrier to self-awareness is lack of objectivity regarding our true emotions, perceptions and feelings. Writing down your thoughts helps you identify internal triggers and analyse your responses. Read your journal entries regularly and consistently for better understanding.
By managing your own emotions and making fair decisions, you can inspire your team to follow your example in doing the same.
For companies interested in online learning, Diversity and Inclusive leadership training programmes offered by Symmetra can help your organisation foster positive relationships in the workplace. Our equality and diversity e-learning workshops equip leaders with strong inclusive skills.