Are you an inclusive leader?

Do you know what it takes to be an inclusive leader?

In our new blog, David explores the 15 traits of inclusive leadership from Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion (enei) and the use of prompting questions to self-assess how well you lead, inclusively.

Are you an inclusive leader?

You probably include people quite naturally. But do you do it intentionally? And do you know your full impact on others? 

If you want to set the tone for inclusive leadership, there are a few things worth remembering:

  • Inclusive leadership is both a competency and a characteristic. It is as much who you ARE, as it is what you DO.
  • You must be intentional to cultivate your inclusive leadership style, it really depends on you. 
  • Leadership and management are not the same. A leader can be a person of influence without hierarchical management position, and people managers do not always demonstrate leadership.
  • Some people maybe become ‘the accidental leader’ – they are good at their role functionally but lacking inclusive leadership capabilities / people management.

Leaders who set the tone for diversity, equity and inclusion are those who have moved beyond policy, platitudes and performative action to a place of genuine intentionality.

Traits of inclusive leaders

The Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion (ENEI), based in the UK, identified 15 traits of inclusive leadership.

If you want to make sure you are being as inclusive as you can be in the way you lead, reflect on the ENEI 15 Traits of Inclusive Leaders below and use the prompting questions to self-assess how well you lead, inclusively. 

  1. Individual consideration: showing individual interest and offering one-to-one support
    • Do I make sure all of my team’s talents and views are valued or do I tend to value certain types of people over others? 
  2. Ideal influence: inspiring others through vision
    • Do I role model positive behaviours? 
    • Do I speak out and challenge when I think decisions are not fair for others?
  3. Inspirational motivation: encouraging others to develop ideas and speak up
    • Do I seek out diverse perspectives to help me to challenge the status quo?
  4. Intellectual stimulation: encouraging creative thinking
    • Am I ensuring ensure team members are stretched and developed (or do I stifle creative thinking)?
  5. Unqualified acceptance: accepting of everyone without bias
    • Do I challenge conformity and encourage people to be themselves at work?
  6. Empathy: taking on other perspectives & seeking to understand how others feel
    • Can I put myself in someone else’s shoes? 
    • Can I connect with others on an emotional level?
  7. Listening: listening to the opinions of others
    • Do I actively seek out other views, even if they challenge my own thinking patterns and assumptions?
  8. Persuasion: influencing others without force or coercion
    • Am I a positive force for others? 
    • Do I use my influence fairly? 
  9. Confidence building: giving positive feedback to boost people’s self-efficacy
    •  Do I praise colleagues consistently?
  10. Growth: Providing growth opportunities, allowing autonomy and valuing unique contributions
    • Do I ensure that work opportunities are provided fairly? 
    • Do I develop all team members?
  11. Foresight: being able to consider the views of others about possible outcomes
    • Do I acknowledge team weaknesses and seek to address these? 
    • Do I seek and encourage contributions from a range of team members? 
  12. Conceptualisation: focusing on how others contribute to long-term objectives
    • Do I engage others to help me to see things from a range of perspectives? 
    • Do I consider the wider strategic goals of the organisation when making decisions?
  13. Awareness: being self-aware and understanding impact of self on others
    • Do my behaviours align to our ethics and values?
  14. Stewardship: servant leaders committed to mutual good instead of self-gain
    • Do I create win-win situations? 
    • Do I try and obtain the best possible outcomes for everyone?
  15. Healing: respecting employee wellbeing
    • Do I show respect and support the wellbeing of others? 
    • Do I respect the work/life harmony of others?

Genuine intentionality

Which of the traits sound least like you?

Even if you already use all of the 15 traits frequently or feel that you are well developed in them all, there is always room to grow personally and to use your traits to have a positive influence.

Perhaps you identified some traits that you would like to use to better effect. If so, there is so much to be learnt through openness and conversation – it’s not always easy to be vulnerable, but if you’re determined to set the tone for DEI leadership, try talking through these questions with someone who’s opinion you value (and who’s perspective may be different to yours!): 

  1. How can you use these traits to create a more inclusive environment for others?
  2. What goals will you set yourself to strengthen your less-used / less-developed traits?

Setting the tone for DEI leadership means opening yourself up to a lifetime of reflection and challenge and upholding a culture of fairness and respect.

For more tools and learning about Inclusive Leadership explore the NKD DEI Toolkit, designed for individuals, teams and leaders who want to make progress on DEI where they work. Get in contact if you’d like to find out more about the NKD DEI Toolkit.