Leadership priority #1: Inclusivity and breaking down barriers to business success

Author: Michael Meyer
Published date: December 7, 2021

Building an inclusive organisation is crucial to success and to meeting the demands of a society eager to further equality. The historic lack of representation of marginalised groups within business, particularly within leadership teams, has improved somewhat in recent years, but disparities remain. Inclusive organisations are not merely for the greater good but also mean a better understanding of increasingly diverse markets, particularly in emerging areas, and diversity of ideas makes innovation more likely. Indeed, research shows a more inclusive workforce has a direct positive impact on business performance.

Despite that:

  • - 1/3 leaders hold an accurate view about their inclusive leadership capabilities.
  • - 1/3 believe they are more inclusive than they are actually perceived by those around them to be.
  • - 1/3 lack confidence in their inclusive leadership capability and so do less than they could to actively guide others and challenge the status quo.

Why is inclusive leadership important?

Inclusive leadership is vital for steering successful organisational inclusivity, by role-modelling expected behaviours and expectations and by fostering a culture of inclusivity from the helm. Inclusive leadership means:

  • - a happy, motivated workforce
  • - diversity of ideas through multiple perspectives
  • - greater success within diverse markets
  • - adaptability resulting in an agile, dynamic business

Typical traits inclusive leaders share

Self-awareness

We are all guilty of unconscious bias in some form or another, a usually benevolent result of our upbringing, experiences and environment. Denying these exist results in a defensive, closed position, making progress and change far less likely. Leaders who understand such ingrained biases exist, and are able to face up to them, can unpick them and begin to break them down.

This openness leads to another inclusive leadership trait, that of humility. The leader without a defensive ego is more likely to take on the ideas of others, which leads to growth – on an individual but also business level.

Collaborative

This ability to collaborate is essential for business ideas to develop, which leads to new opportunities and profitability. Inclusive leaders understand that diversity of thought makes creativity and innovation more likely, and that inclusivity has a direct positive impact on the bottom line.

Collaborative leaders who invite and listen to a variety of perspectives means they, and resultingly the business, are better able to understand a wider variety of customers and markets, and means missing blind spots – either in regard to risk or opportunity – less likely. 

Open to learning

Inclusive leaders also share curiosity – the desire to learn, and to adapt and act according to new information. Those who aren’t naturally curious and without a desire to learn risk stagnating, which is detrimental to business growth. Seeking and acquiring new knowledge results in an organisation better equipped to deal with new thoughts, ideas and markets.

What are the benefits of inclusive leadership?

Benefits of inclusive leadership include but aren’t limited to:

  • - Diversity of thought and ideas leading to greater innovation
  • - Being open-minded and curious means greater knowledge acquisition
  • - Role models positive behaviour throughout the rest of the business
  • - Covering all bases – helps inform business decisions and minimises risk of missing nuance
  • - Improves business performance, particularly in emerging markets where cross-cultural knowledge is useful

How can Cooper Lomaz help you to build an inclusive leadership team

Our knowledgeable consultants can help build inclusive leadership teams of diverse individuals who share the aforementioned traits and who see the benefit of running inclusive businesses.

You may wish to implement unconscious bias and inclusive leadership training to help support your efforts to achieve greater inclusivity, our consultants can help…

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