Inclusive Leadership, the Answer to Thriving in an Ever Changing World

The key to success lies in inclusive leadership teams, but how to get there?

The simple truth for all organisations no matter their size or scale, is that it’s the leadership that can make or break the success the organisation goes on to enjoy. 

From the viability of the brand, to the external reputation, through to how the organisation feels like to be a part of and naturally the profitability of the entire operation. The leadership, from individual sole founders through to all encompassing leadership teams sets the tone for the viability, growth, people and the organisational culture as a whole. 

Deloitte has identified the six signature traits of an inclusive leader. In doing so, they have mined their experiences with more than 1,000 global leaders, deep-diving into the views of 15 leaders and subject matter experts, and surveying over 1,500 employees on their perceptions of inclusion | Source: Deloitte
Deloitte has identified the six signature traits of an inclusive leader. In doing so, they have mined their experiences with more than 1,000 global leaders, deep-diving into the views of 15 leaders and subject matter experts, and surveying over 1,500 employees on their perceptions of inclusion | Source: Deloitte

It’s a further simple truth that the essence of leaders and managers roles distils down into their being responsible for guiding their people towards success. Nurturing and bringing the workforce together to collaborate towards reaching a common goal.

With this in mind, the degree to which the leadership of an organisation is inclusive in its formation, behavioural style and operation can add or detract from the levels of collaboration, problem solving and effectiveness in appreciating a breadth of diverse perspectives.

What is Inclusive leadership?

Inclusive leadership is a leadership style where collaboration is at the centre of the approach. The aims of this approach are to empower colleagues and those throughout the organisation to problem solve together in the workplace, through leveraging effective decision making, communication and problem solving. 

Inclusive leaders set out to value and implement the knowledge, expertise and skills of the teams and people across the organisation, ensuring that through all actions, goals are achieved both individually and collectively, through confidence, yet not through combative behaviours and ego. 

Yet further to this, Inclusive leaders are also widely acknowledged for possessing an awareness of their own continuing development areas, knowledge gaps and blind spots. In turn this awareness of their partiality, results in their taking active steps to engage, listen to and consider the perspectives of those around them.

As a result of this style and the positive impact it has within organisations, inclusive leadership is warmly regarded and welcomed by fellow senior leaders and employees alike. To the extent that those who value being engaged, listened to and consulted on decisions embrace the collegiate nature and in turn, go on to thrive.

The business case for inclusive leadership

The very nature of business leading up to and in 2022 has seen an increasing need for diversity of markets, customers, ideas. And with it, the needs of talent are pressing ahead with the demands for much needed inclusion as part of leadership capability.

As a result the business case for inclusive leadership is being made clearer. The factors described by Deloitte as global mega-trends, are in business re-shaping the capabilities that leadership need to respond to the trends as they develop. 

Mega – trend one: Market Diversity 

Market Diversity is being attributed to the slow down in growth of emerging markets. With combined factors that include China being predicted to grow slower than the US for the third consecutive year. A stronger US dollar and rising yields of the US treasury also. 

Diversity of markets, customers, ideas, and talent: These simultaneous shifts are the new context.

These factors coupled with global middle-class populations poised for growth by 2025 to 3.2 billion, up significantly from 1.8 billion in 2009. Means that the collective rise in income levels is increasing demands on consumer choices too. 

Mega – trend two: Diversity of customers

Customers’ needs are diversifying further, leading to an increasing focus on customer centricity. The Chief Customer Officer role which has seen its prominence growing steadily since 2011, is showing no signs of slowing from being a key CXO position. 

Businesses’ success has an enormous dependency on how satisfied their customers are. As such the creation of roles that tend to the diversity and needs of customers, are increasing. 

The success of a business is ultimately measured through customer satisfaction and, consequently, customer experience is a competitive differentiator

Chief Client Officer, Chief Experience Officer, Member Experience, Chief Global Customer and Marketing Officer. And that of the most popularly titled Chief Customer Officer (CCO). Are contributing to the re-design of operating models to centre customer needs and expectations. 

Mega – trend three: Diversity of ideas

The diversity of ideas has a direct correlation of how possible it is for an organisation to evolve and move with the changing times in the business landscape. 

Innovation, breakthroughs and transformative developments are often contributed to by diversity of thinking. Yet, if your organisation is dependent on diversity of thought alone, then as argued by the Chartered Governance institute of UK and Ireland, there’s a great deal more to do. 

If you believe being inclusive of ‘diversity of thought’ in your organisation is doing enough, thinking you are managing diverse representation, you are wrong

Innovation in these changing times is a high priority for all organisations. However in what has become a race to innovate faster, diversity of thinking is critical to this success. But operating on its own will only be sufficient to pave part of the way there. 

Mega – trend four: Diversity of talent

The Diversity of talent in your organisation will be the future of your workforce. Yet there is a risk to the focus on this area being diluted, given what has recently been coined as diversity fatigue

Following an increased focus on making improvements to all aspects of talent diversity, it’s critical that the leadership and focus on diversity does not lose its momentum. It could perhaps be argued that the very future of success for organisations is dependent on how optimised a talent and succession pool is. 

Rightly so, diversity will continue to dominate our industry’s agenda in 2022

Yet despite the trends and data providing solid evidence as to why the focus on diversity in all areas has a direct impact and correlation with organisational effectiveness. Too many companies are struggling to retain diverse talent or sufficiently built a diverse or inclusive leadership succession plan.

The path to inclusive leadership

Traditional leadership frameworks and models of assessment will need to be reimagined to achieve not only inclusive leadership objectives, but also the benefits that inclusive leadership can deliver. 

Data also indicates that inclusion affects teams throughout the organisation. As such it makes sense that when contemplating the paths that will lead to inclusive leadership that HR and business leaders take the finding from this data into account.

The world is changing. And in turn, what organizations need from leaders is changing

Yet it’s the traits of an inclusive leader that talent pipelines and with them talent acquisition programmes will need to build into their framework. 

Deloitte’s research on inclusive leadership outlines these traits as including:

  1. Commitment 
  2. Courage 
  3. Cognizance of bias 
  4. Curiosity 
  5. Cultural Intelligence 
  6. Collaboration 
These six traits and fifteen elements are not a meaningless or aspirational laundry list. As our interviews and formal 180-degree assessment of leaders and peers/followers revealed, they are very tangible and developable | Source: Deloitte
These six traits and fifteen elements are not a meaningless or aspirational laundry list. As our interviews and formal 180-degree assessment of leaders and peers/followers revealed, they are very tangible and developable | Source: Deloitte

Therefore the path to inclusive leadership means that organisations must embed an inclusive approach from the very beginning of their talent attraction process. The adoption of an inclusive culture, permeating through to all facets of the talent attraction process in practice, will help to diversify the talent pool and with it expand the potentials of inclusive leadership taking place. 

Sage HR’s recruitment software adds real time value to the talent attraction process. Enabling the easy build and management of talent pipelines for roles with their specific requirements. In addition to facilitating better decision making throughout the hiring process, thanks to custom scorecards that unify the selection process with your inclusive leadership goals baked in.

A focus on Inclusion as part of your talent and leadership strategy will help your organisation to remain competitive and at the forefront of change in these ever changing times.

Jade.


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Written By

Jade Taryn Graham

Jade is the founder & CEO of Inspired Talent.co a people & talent consultancy working with the most innovative early stage companies worldwide. Founder & CCO of Inspired Talent Media Ltd and contributing writer for Sage HR where Jade writes about people, leadership, work/life balance and change.