What makes people feel included in organizations? Feel that they are treated fairly and respectfully, are valued and belong? Many things of course, including an organization’s mission, policies, and practices, as well as co-worker behaviors.
But mostly it comes down to leaders. We find that what leaders say and do makes up to a 70% difference as to whether an individual reports feeling included. And this really matters because the more people feel included, the more they speak up, go the extra mile, and collaborate — all of which ultimately lifts organizational performance.
Given this formula, inclusive leadership is emerging as a unique and critical capability helping organizations adapt to diverse customers, markets, ideas and talent. Our previous research found that inclusive leaders share a cluster of six signature traits:
- Visible commitment: They articulate authentic commitment to diversity, challenge the status quo, hold others accountable, and make diversity and inclusion a personal priority.
- Humility: They are modest about capabilities, admit mistakes, and create the space for others to contribute.
- Awareness of bias: They show awareness of personal blind spots, as well as flaws in the system, and work hard to ensure a meritocracy.
- Curiosity about others: They demonstrate an open mindset and deep curiosity about others, listen without judgment, and seek with empathy to understand those around them.
- Cultural intelligence: They are attentive to others’ cultures and adapt as required.
- Effective collaboration: They empower others, pay attention to diversity of thinking and psychological safety, and focus on team cohesion.
Read this great HBR article to find out more.