Recent research has indicated diverse and inclusive teams are happier, more productive and more successful. However, it’s important to note diversity and inclusion are important beyond your specific success — it’s also important to provide opportunity to others who may not otherwise be given the chance to demonstrate their skills and capabilities. Having an inclusive team starts with your leadership. If you’re not sure where to begin, here are a few tips to get started.
You have to commit
Both the millennial and Gen Z generations feel strongly that an organization needs to be inclusive and diverse to be considered successful. They also believe most business leaders only pay “lip service” to inclusivity. To appeal to these younger generations, both as customers and prospective team members, you have to commit to being inclusive. Treating all team members with respect and taking the time to understand their unique backgrounds and perspectives is an excellent way to start putting inclusive leadership into practice.
Reflect on yourself
No matter your background, you need to have self-awareness to be a good leader. It is critical for inclusive leaders to reflect on how you got to where you are today and how things like your education, race, gender and health aided or impeded your progress. Are you comfortable talking about these things at work, in your reports and to your team? If you want to be an inclusive leader, you need to be open and honest about your own journey.
Inclusive leadership means leading with a servant leadership mindset, and that includes being humble. Being honest about your shortcomings as a leader or as a team member creates an atmosphere that allows others to talk about their shortcomings. You also need to be open to receiving feedback on your leadership style from your superiors, your peers and your direct reports. By making yourself a vulnerable and humble part of the team, you create a more inclusive — and safer — workplace for your fellow team members.
Inclusive leadership is a challenging but noble goal. By committing to diversity and inclusion, reflecting on your background, and being a humble leader, you can create a more inclusive workplace for your team members.