INCLUSIVE Culture: leaders need it simplified!

Leaders are confused. There are so many theories on the best type of leadership and the best type of measures – which one do I pick?

I have worked with over 10,000 leaders in the last 14 years – and one thing I know for sure – the EXPECTATIONS ON LEADERS ARE BIG.

Typically, I see leaders being sent to attend sessions and briefings, or sent decks with detailed explanations on what they have to do on all the things we EXPECT of them: increase engagement, performance management, embed the values, the behaviours, diversity and inclusion, safety leadership …and lets get agile as well while we are in the process.

AND ….by the way, you also need to run your business and make that a success.

I feel that leaders are overwhelmed with the information around what they are supposed to be doing. In my experience, the vast majority WANT to do all of the things expected and are in raving agreement on the importance – but the frantic life of business gets in the way.

My quest has been to simplify this for leaders. The truth is that ALL the things we are trying to achieve are in fact connected – but we need to help leaders understand the GLUE….and then we need to simplify the ACTION -part for them so that its easy for them to succeed.

You are probably nodding your head in agreement ….but you are also probably very aware of the complexity of what I have just said. It makes sense …but its not that easy to achieve. Or is it?

As an INCLUSION nut …I usually use this as the backbone of any such strategy. INCLUSION in its broadest sense means every individual feels like they BELONG and feel that their UNIQUENESS is valued.

INCLUSION has traditionally been coupled with the word ‘diversity’. We know that diversity doesn’t work unless that difference is included and respected. But the cool thing about creating an INCLUSIVE CULTURE …is that it has multiple other big spinoffs.

An INCLUSIVE CULTURE also enables:

  1. Increased engagement – its really hard to be engaged when you don’t feel included.

  2. Innovation – when I feel included I share my wild ideas.

  3. Collaboration – WE are in this together.

  4. Productivity – it takes a lot less energy for me to be myself at work rather than pretend to fit in.

  5. Talent pipeline and bench strength – I have a broader view of who may be dubbed ‘talent’ ….I might even have a view that everyone was talented (wild thought!)

  6. Psychological Safety – a safe to speak up culture which reduces group think and enables innovation and engagement.

  7. Safety leadership – having an environment where I feel safe to report.

The list goes on. But you can see where I’m coming from.

Psychological Safety is at the heart of what INCLUSION day to day really feels like. A “psychologically safe” workplace is characterised by a climate of interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people feel comfortable being themselves to make mistakes or take risks in their work.

Google’s research of its own workforce revealed that psychological safety was the most important team norm for high-performing innovative workplaces – those norms are: Psychological safety; Dependability; Structure and clarity; Meaning and purpose; and Impact.

While all five norms are important to team performance, psychological safety has been shown to be the most important attribute - if this attribute is strong, the other four norms are so much easier to achieve.

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