Jan 29, 2013
Growing your Inclusive Leadership Skills
Today we have a post about inclusive leadership from leadership coach Rachael Ross. Rachael is a published writer and enjoys writing especially about leadership and diversity. So it’s a pleasure to have her as a guest blogger here today with her words of wisdom on the key skills required to be an inclusive leader:
Organisations need leaders who are adept at, and value working with, people who are different from themselves. They also seek key people who are skilled at creating a working culture that is inclusive. Why? Because diversity is a part of everyday working life, and an inclusive organisation is one where challenge and different views are valued and innovative approaches can thrive.
Inclusive leadership combines a mindset and set of skills that will give you the competitive edge as a future organisational leader.
So what are the skills involved and how can you develop them?
6 Tips on Inclusive Leadership Skills
1. Have a wide sense of purpose – see yourself building connections across your whole organisation, as well as with your clients and partners, as one seamless system (rather than being overly focused on your own job and function). This will enhance your scanning ability – to see what is going on just over the horizon, and see problems from a variety of perspectives.
2. Be endlessly curious about other people. What makes them tick? This will help you build connections with new people, and keep familiar colleagues fascinating!
3. Ask more open questions and move into offering opinions only later, particularly when first meeting someone. You will discover new information which will make sure you don’t narrow down your decision-making too early.
4. See working with people who are different from you – e,g. with a woman if you are a man – as resourceful rather than difficult. As a coachee said to me recently: “I enjoy working with women because they often come at problems in a different way from me”.
5. Be aware that your listening, empathy and connecting capability are a vital part of your portfolio of skills. Recognise these are just as valuable as your visionary and strategic skills. (Too often these engagement skills are seen by organisations as secondary or ‘nice to have’. They are in fact core to great inclusive leadership).
6. Be alert to make sure your desire to be right is overwhelmed by your desire to find a common purpose and way forward.
The great news is that as with any skill development, learning to be an “inclusive leader” is something you can practise, often with a coach to support and challenge you.
Forward-thinking organisations are recognising that inclusive leadership and this set of skills is vital for 21st century business. Investing energy and time in developing them is good for their organisations and good for the business community in the UK.