Ways Leaders Can Create More Inclusive Environments

If you are a leader but are unsure of how to honour the diversity of your teams and encourage a more inclusive environment, here are three tips, plus an example of how it can work.

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How inclusive leadership has to be built on trust

Diversity is so precious because it can only be expressed when there is safety. When there is safety there is trust. And trust is at the bottom of high performing teams, always. Patrick Lencioni in his Five Dysfunctions of a Team, has expressed this point very precisely: There are no high performing teams that don’t begin with a very solid foundations of trust. And there is no trust where there is no safety.

Best practice for inclusive leaders wanting diverse ideas in their teams

It is all about active listening. Active listening means that you really let your team be able to speak. You don’t cut them off. You don’t interrupt them. You don’t pretend to understand their experience until you have really listened to it. You listen with a commitment for respect and trying to put yourself in their shoes. It’s not just superficial listening. It’s really deep listening.

When your team wants to express emotions, respect it. It’s a deep democracy approach. I truly believe everybody can contribute good ideas. It’s about listening, empathy and encouragement. “Oh, that’s interesting. Tell me more about that.” Encourage that which you can’t process yourself to come forth. It is not about pleasing and trying to say every idea is interesting. It is the ideas you wouldn’t have had yourself. Go and be curious about them.

How coaching can help inclusive leaders build this best practice

Recently, I have been coaching a fairly young leader. Young in her career and young in her leadership position. She realized that what she wants is to have winning arguments come forth in her team. I have asked her as a homework for the next two weeks of meetings to take a step back from the center stage and stay quiet. We had the following coaching session and she was amazed to realize the amount of ideas that were flowing in her meetings. She warned her team that she wouldn’t be speaking so that they would not be left wondering what was happening.

Interestingly, she was really surprised by this diversity of thought. She realized that she didn’t need to be speaking and being very vocal up front every time. She could preserve her impact for when she was really needed, as opposed to being domineering in the conversation from the start.

Do you want to be an inclusive leader?

If you feel that you want to reveal aspects of yourself that deserve some light now, then just let me know, let’s engage and have a conversation together to see where that could take us in terms of our coach x coachee relationship.

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