How to become an inclusive leader: 3 tips

Written by Cynthia Sax, Vice President and organizational development consultant
Previously published by PSI Talent Management or Cubiks, prior to becoming Talogy.

Among the most critical challenges that today’s leaders face is the importance of creating team cultures that are increasingly diverse, equitable, and inclusive. While heightening awareness of these issues is important, alone it is not enough to generate the kind of sustained behavioral change required for long-term impact.

Anyone who has attempted to make a behavioral change – for example, starting an exercise regime or incorporating healthier choices into one’s diet – understands the difficulty associated with sustaining those changes. On an organizational level, it can seem to be an overwhelming undertaking for even the most seasoned, well-intentioned leader.

By taking a more comprehensive view and focusing on both people and processes, we can be more successful in removing systemic bias in our talent practices. As leaders, we have a unique opportunity to become allies for diversity, equity, and inclusivity by modeling the behaviors we wish to instill in our organizations.

Here are the “ABCs” that any manager can follow to become the inclusive leader we all aspire to be:

A – Appreciate Inclusion

Allyship begins with heightened awareness of the issues and experiences of disenfranchised groups. This requires that leaders bring an open-minded stance to learning more about the uniqueness that each person brings to the team. They are curious and willing to identify, explore, and understand how privilege contributes to systemic biases.

B – Build an Inclusive Climate

Allies display a willingness to take action on their new understanding. They rely upon their empathy, active listening skills, and humility to communicate with transparency. Leaders who present an authentic willingness to listen, display genuine concern for others, and take action will be one step closer to creating an environment of mutual trust, respect, and psychological safety.

C – Champion Change

Organizational change does not happen quickly or easily. Leaders who are champions of change start by speaking up consistently and with clarity about the issues at hand and the values that the organization embraces. They are not satisfied with just talking about the need to be more inclusive; they model the inclusive behaviors and they expect and encourage others to do the same.

Creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture is not only the right thing to do, it can also be a critical component of an organization’s success today and in the future. Even the most well-intentioned leader can improve their awareness, confidence, and effectiveness by simply making it a priority. If you want to become an inclusive leader, you must dedicate the time to learning more about ways to proactively support diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

With schedules already stretched to the limits, it can be difficult to make room in your day for professional development. Self-paced, virtual, micro-learning is a great way to bridge the gap from selection to development. Investment in the development of your leaders and using a process that allows them to personalize their learning journey will result in increased retention, enhanced productivity and engagement, and improved business outcomes.

If your organization is looking for a way to support leaders’ ability to become allies for diversity and inclusion, PSI offers an innovative blended learning solution that can be tailored to meet your needs. The AIM Learning System is a scalable, job-related, competency development program that leverages best practice learning principles to create personalized learning journeys for your employees.

Our themed solution around Diversity and Inclusion includes e-learning modules on competencies that are critical to becoming an inclusive leader, including Embracing Diversity, Concern for Others, Managing Conflict, and Leading Change. Learning is further explored and reinforced during a series of related VILT webinars. Optional individual coaching and learning circles provide additional support to sustain long-term behavioral change and expand the impact of results.

Building better organizations through inclusive leadership

The topic of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is an area of emphasis for many organizations right now.

Organizations that have been successful at creating sustainable change in D&I have had strong commitment, and action, among their leadership.

In this whitepaper, you will learn about the role that leaders play in creating an inclusive culture, one that strives to create allies, or champions for diversity, as well as the leadership competencies and characteristics that contribute to inclusive behavior and climate.

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building better organizations through inclusive leadership cta whitepaper cover