10 Qualities and Behaviors That Inclusive Leaders are Thankful For By Charlotte Hughes

The all-American holiday of Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to practice inclusion in the workplace. This year, a time when the country continues to react to the outpouring of rage and empathy last year sparked by the police killing of George Floyd that shook the foundations of Corporate America in unprecedented ways, we need fairness and inclusion more than ever.

Inclusive leaders – leaders who are aware of their own biases and preferences, actively seek out and consider different views and perspectives to inform better decision-making – are better prepared to practice inclusive behaviors than all others.  An inclusive leader sets the tone and models the behaviors for their team to create an environment where each person feels seen, valued, respected, and able to contribute — in short, where they feel they belong and are included.

An inclusive environment is created in equal part by the behavior of individuals (leaders and peers), who make conscious inclusion a daily practice. Effective talent management demands inclusive behavior, not least because inclusion leads to better outcomes and can support foundational business goals:

  • Win the war for talent: Recent McKinsey research found that 39 percent of all respondents say they have turned down or decided not to pursue a job because of a perceived lack of inclusion at an organization.
  • Improve the quality of decision making: Teams with greater diversity and inclusion make more accurate decisions.
  • Incorporate equity: Being able to prove you are an equitable employer (or are at least striving to be) will make you more attractive to prospective employees. It also aids retention when you can prove to women and BIPOC employees that they are getting a fair deal.
  • Build greater resonance and trust with customer: Treating employees well is the highest-impact way to communicate an organization’s values and strengthen relationships with their customers.
  • Increase retention of diverse talent: Employees who experience microaggressions are three times more likely to think about leaving their jobs.

Are You an Inclusive Leader?

To answer that question with confidence, Inclusive Leaders Group has prepared a FREE 12 Page Inclusive Leadership E-Guide available when you complete our brief Inclusive Leader Self-Assessment. The Inclusive Leader Self-Assessment is an online tool which we created to help with your personal leadership development.  Once you have submitted the questionnaire you will receive some feedback on your answers, as well as access to a FREE Inclusive Leadership E-Guide.

10 Qualities and Behaviors That Inclusive Leaders are Thankful For

Korn Ferry research has identified the 5 traits and 5 competencies needed for leaders to be inclusive in their thoughts, perceptions, and actions—and inspire an inclusive mindset in others.

Traits of an inclusive leader: Traits are hard-wired. They include an individual’s personality, sense of purpose, and values, but they also indicate preferences. For inclusive leaders, they are the inner enablers that make inclusive leadership possible and, when utilized as a whole, they tell us the leader’s disposition towards differences.  The core traits of an inclusive leader are:

  1. Authenticity: Inclusive leaders are humble and set aside their ego. They authentically establish trust in the face of opposing beliefs, values, or perspectives.
  2. Emotional Resilience: Inclusive leaders can remain composed in the face of adversity or any difficulty around differences.
  3. Self-Assurance: Inclusive leaders take a stance of confidence and optimism.
  4. Inquisitiveness: Inclusive leaders are open to differences, curiosity, and empathy.
  5. Flexibility: Inclusive leaders can tolerate ambiguity and adapt to diverse needs.

Competencies of an inclusive leader: While the traits outlined above are the foundation of an inclusive leader, these are not enough on their own. An inclusive leader must also possess the skills to lead inclusively.  Korn Ferry identified the competencies that are essential for inclusive leadership and used empirical analysis to organize these competencies into clusters. The core competencies of an inclusive leader are:

  1. Builds Interpersonal Trust: Inclusive leaders are honest, and they follow through. They establish rapport by finding common ground while simultaneously valuing perspectives that differ from their own.
  2. Integrates Diverse Perspectives: Inclusive leaders consider all points of view and the needs of others, and skillfully navigate conflict situations.
  3. Optimizes Talent: Inclusive leaders motivate others and support their growth. They join forces for collective success across differences.
  4. Applies an Adaptive Mindset: Inclusive leaders take a broad worldview, adapt their approach to suit the situation, and innovate by leveraging differences.
  5. Achieves Transformation: Inclusive leaders are willing to confront difficult topics. They bring people of all backgrounds along to achieve results.

A July 2020 article from McKinsey & Company notes that workplace changes introduced in response to Covid-19 provide an opportunity for organizations to introduce new habits. Since working remotely could be a permanent part of the next normal for some employees, organizations and teams, companies should seize this opportunity to build more inclusive habits. The article states that a shift in workplace dynamics “can, and should, serve as a catalyst to embed more inclusive practices and more effective leadership skills.”

Inclusive Leaders Group could not agree more. As an inclusive leader, you will use these 10 qualities and behaviors to shape your organization’s people strategies, innovation, globalization, brand and reputation, and growth.

If you have not taken our Inclusive Leader self-assessment, please do so now as the feedback and FREE Inclusive Leadership E-Guide will be valuable to you and your work.

Let us Talk About Building Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Your Organization.  Our experts are here to help. Contact Us about your organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and needs.

We would love to partner with you!

Charlotte F. Hughes is the successful Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Inclusive Leaders Group. She has designed and delivered sessions for frontline, mid-level, and senior leaders at Morgan Stanley, Cox Enterprises, Kimberly-Clark, Ascension Health, and Children’s Hospital Association among other leading organizations. Charlotte’s passion is bringing evidence-based narrative and storytelling both in the design of diversity and inclusion strategy and in driving inclusive behaviors. In addition to working collaboratively with clients, Charlotte is responsible for the growth and development of our consulting team who are central to all Inclusive Leaders Group solutions.

                         Meeting you where you are with inclusion, insight, and inspiration ….Together, we can create a better world.


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