“You can have courage, or you can have comfort, but you can’t have both” – Brene Brown
One of my favourite quotes and the one I am choosing as the banner for today’s post on Inclusive Leadership. And, as a leader, if you are going to move forward with this, I salute you, but I would also say, ‘buckle up you are in for a bumpy ride.’
In the light of George Floyd, the global protests around Black Lives Matter and the inequalities thrown up by our current pandemic, it seems now more than ever we need leaders prepared to dig deep and act. Now is not the time for tick boxes, empty gestures, policies that mean nothing and fruitless studies.
We need leaders prepared to walk the floor, listen to people, come out from behind the small group of courtiers, and take a long hard look at what the numbers are already telling them.
“We define Inclusive Leadership as leaders who are aware of their biases and preferences, actively seek out and consider different views and perspectives to inform better decision-making. They see diverse talent as s source of competitive advantage and inspire diverse people to drive organisational and individual performance towards a shared vision.”
Source: – ENEI, Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion
It took me all of two minutes to locate this definition online, and I am sure there are others we could refer to, but how many of you as leaders have looked?
- What does Inclusive Leadership look like to you?
- What does it mean?
- What are your stats telling you?
- How hard are you looking?
- Who are you listening to?
With this definition, I like the dual focus on awareness and activity—the need to act on mitigating your bias. I also like that diversity is seen as a source of competitive advantage. However, you could argue that it should happen regardless, still, perhaps it is better not to get tied up in that philosophical debate.
From my own experience, two leaders come to mind when I think about accessibility and visibility:
The first, walked in as I was being interviewed for my first full-time job – on hearing that I spoke German, he immediately switched to that language to ask how I was. He seemed reasonably satisfied with my answer, and that was the first of many encounters during the four years I worked with that organisation. He was regularly on the shop floor, wandering around the offices and it was not unusual for him to stop and chat with whoever he came across, including yours truly.
The second, who even after five years I barely spoke to – was hidden mainly away either in his office or behind the same small group of people. When I queried this with my boss, I was told ‘he’s a bit shy.’ Not good enough. I was not impressed then, and it would not impress me now.
If you are a leader, it is your job to be accessible, visible to all, to be seen and to bloody listen.
I also think it is time to talk numbers and to be forensic in how you examine them. It is time to look beneath the surface, and determine at a granular level, what the figures are telling you. What is the story behind your stats? What is missing? Or more to the point, who is missing?
- Who are the people working for you?
- Where are they working for you?
- What do your pipelines look like?
- How often are you recruiting, promoting, mentoring in your own image?
Now, I would like to share another definition with you:
“Psychological Safety is being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status, or career. It can be defined as a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking. In psychologically safe teams, team members feel accepted and respected.”
Source: – Wikipedia
How safe and inclusive are your teams? How would you know? Are you tapping into the potential of all team members? Because one thing that is glaringly obvious to me is the monumental waste of potential and talent that is caused by discrimination, racial or otherwise. There may well be people within your organisation who simply feel they cannot bring their whole selves to work, their ideas, their perspectives, their innovations, their insights. Can you afford to continue running a toxic organisation? I would suggest not.
Okay, just a couple more definitions around acceptance, and respect:
“Acceptance of a person is the act of agreeing to that person’s becoming a member of an organisation or group, or to that person’s belonging to your group as an equal.”
Source: – Cambridge Dictionary
Do your people feel they belong at all levels within your organisation? Is everyone accepted and valued as equals?
“A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”
“Due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others.”
Source: – Online Dictionary
I would hope at the very least you can put your hand up to the second line, having due regard for the feelings, wishes or rights of others.
Because if you cannot, you have no business calling yourself a leader.
So, there you have it until next time.