“Inclusivity means not ‘just we’re allowed to be there,’ but we are valued. I’ve always said: smart teams will do amazing things, but truly diverse teams will do impossible things.”
As we welcome 2021, there are numerous opportunities available for leaders to consciously break into and take advantage of. One of these is to reflect upon the way diversity & inclusion is plugged and weaved into the everyday conduct of their business. Not only leaders can redesign the way they want their team to perform, but also the approach for people to come together, contribute to becoming a strong team, and fulfill responsibilities.
Almost all leaders would like to leave a legacy of their leadership. While the CEO’s intention and interest are important, for bringing diversity and leading inclusion, people holding other executive powers, positions, and influence are also game-changers.
If we are to focus on the traits that a person or leader may want to strengthen in self, team, and organization, there are ample to choose from. However, these five behaviours are worth considering to embody and create inspiration for others to follow, when it comes to embracing diversity and inclusion in its best form.
- Self-awareness – Having an awareness of unconscious bias is the first step to acknowledge the differences and commonalities that lies at the core of being human. When a leader has an awareness of self, they are most likely to address the matter thoughtfully.
- Reframing judgment – On one hand, leaders get paid for making judgments, and on the other, these leaders are subject to constant analysis for making the decisions. As judgment and decision are two sides of the same coin, leaders need to look into things from a fresh perspective and objectively to welcome diversity and enable inclusion.
- Creating safety – Emotional, physical, physiological, and financial safety is the foundation of communication that takes place in a professional setup. For a leader to value diversity and lead inclusion sincerely, it is important to create an environment where people feel safe, respected, and appreciated for who they are.
- Planned action – Including people from diverse backgrounds in the decision-making process requires genteel planning, clear communication, and harmonized action. Honouring this course promises attraction and retention of great talent.
- Setting example – People find it more convincing to adopt a behaviour that they; see in the leader, find it meaningful, and know it is aligned with business objectives. Hence, it becomes important for the leadership team to embrace the qualities they wish others to implement.
All in all, diversity and inclusion are ever-present ingredients having the power to act as a catalyst for leading positive change that impacts people, communities, countries, and business at large. Inclusion fundamentally enables diversity to work positively and profitably.
If you are a leader, who has not yet leveraged the benefits and beauty of working with diversity and inclusion, 2021 is a good year to build a foundation or strengthen it further to achieve overarching goals.
Neeraj Tyagi is an executive coach, who works with organizations across countries and cultures to bring change systemically and sustainably, lead through effective communication and build a strong presence to achieve business goals.