Inclusive Leadership and Why it is So Important in Today’s World of Work

Last week, we explored the concept of intentional and purposeful leadership and why it is so important in our new world of work. This week, we decided to build on this concept by sharing insights about the concept of “inclusive leadership”.  

We are raving fans of the report that Deloitte crafted a few years back that describes the six traits of inclusive leadership. Their insights and research explored the importance of valuing the traditional timeless aspects of leadership such as being transformational, servant leader, and authentic leadership, to name a few examples.

However, today’s ever-changing diverse world calls for something different in addition to valuing what we know works.

Their report was structured in three parts which included the following aspects:

  • It explored four global mega-trends around the diversity of markets, customers, ideas, and customers that show how business context is far less homogenous and much more diverse than has historically been the case. These interrelated shifts are influencing business priorities, and reshaping the capabilities required of leaders to succeed in the future.

  • Identified the six signature traits of an inclusive leader by mining the data and experiences of more than 1,000 global leaders, explored the views of 15 leaders and subject matter experts, and surveying over 1,500 employees on their perceptions of what “inclusion” means.  
  • In addition, they built on the existing thought leadership and applied research that drew on their work of their inclusive leadership assessment tool which the six-part framework is based on. 

They concluded that organizations need to cultivate inclusive capabilities across their leadership population to thrive on our ever-changing diverse world.

Definition of Inclusive Leadership

Inclusive leaders are aware of their own biases and actively seek out and consider different perspectives to inform their decision-making and collaborate more effectively with others. 

The six traits of inclusive leadership include:

Cognizance – bias is a leaders Achilles’ heel; be aware of your own biases

Curiosity – different ideas and experiences enable growth; have a growth mindset and lean into the coaching style of leadership 

Cultural Intelligence – not everyone sees the world through the same cultural frame; build external self-awareness of people and circumstances

Collaboration – a diverse thinking team is greater than the sum of its parts; value the diversity of thinking and behavior

Commitment – staying the course is hard, it requires relentless focus and rebalancing

Courage – talking about imperfections involves personal risk-taking, be open and vulnerable

More specifically, their research revealed that people will feel more included when:

  • they are treated fairly
  • their uniqueness is appreciated
  • they have a sense of belonging
  • they have a voice in decision-making.

Putting this into the context of leadership thinking and behaviors that define how we should show up, inclusive leadership is about:

Fairness and Respect – foundational element that is underpinned by ideas about equality of treatment and opportunities.

Value and Belonging – individuals feeling their uniqueness is acknowledged and appreciated, while also feeling a sense of social connectedness and group membership.

Confidence and Inspiration – creating the conditions for high team performance through individuals having the confidence to speak up and the motivation to do their best work.

A combination of these traits, when reinforced with the timeless leadership approaches noted earlier, fosters an inclusive culture where everyone feels safe to think and perform at their best, creating a high-performance organization.

It’s time to dig deep and think about whether you are exhibiting inclusive leadership in your workplace culture.

You set the tone for how others will show up based on your thinking and behavior. The world is continuing to evolve around us, therefore, we need to constantly fine-tune our own skills and leadership toolkit if we want to keep up the constant pace of perpetual change and diversity that isn’t slowing down any time soon.

More Help For Developing an Inclusive Leadership Approach

What are your thoughts on the concept of inclusive leadership? How effective are you at exhibiting the six traits noted above?

We want to hear your feedback and insights on this topic, so please reach out and email me at or call me at 1.855.871.3374.

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