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Dr Doyin Atewologun, COP at Cranfield University and Matt Brady, Head of HR at Sky, explain why it is important to them.
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Inclusive leadership is attracting more and more attention and causing a shift in the diversity and inclusion (D&I) landscape. Leaders can have a profound impact on organisational culture and minority group members, so, unless they are committed to improving diversity and embedding an inclusive culture, broader D&I initiatives a have limited chance of success.
There should be a simple answer to this seemingly simple question; however, with no consistent understanding of what inclusive leadership actually is, and no comprehensive industry-wide definition – it’s a question we’re often asked. Cubiks has developed its own model of Inclusive Leadership to address this issue and provide greater clarity. The following definition and associated traits were discussed during the event and are reflected in Cubiks’ Inclusive Leadership model:
The definition: Inclusive leaders believe in the power of diversity and embrace difference while generating feelings of belonging within teams and organisations.
During the roundtable we discussed key traits, establishing that inclusive leaders:
The business case for inclusive leadership is far more compelling now than 15 years’ ago. There is data to support how D&I leads to innovation, retention and collaboration – ultimately empowering better business results.
There is often, however, great difficulty in obtaining buy-in to implement inclusive leadership initiatives. Where buy-in has been successful, the key causal factors were:
Cubiks have identified the main barriers to achieving Inclusive Leadership. The first is Leaders not seeing the need or looking for a quick fix; the second is the resistance to change both at an organisational and an individual level. Below we explore these barriers in greater depth and pose some possible solutions.
Gaining buy-in: Either business leaders do not see the need for more inclusive leadership or they fall into three common ‘execution’ traps:
TRAP ONE: They want one single, easy solution: this does not exist; multi-facet progressive organisational change is required.
TRAP TWO: They create a D&I role and delegate solving the problem: however, the task is too large for one person and without buy-in, support and action from leaders across the business, change is restricted.
TRAP THREE: They limit their focus: Leaders still see inclusive leadership as an HR challenge and limit the focus to recruitment and promotion processes, it should be embedded throughout all organisation-wide processes / procedures / projects to ultimately succeed.
It’s hard to disrupt the way that things are done at an organisational level:
Individuals’ openness to change:
Defensiveness: Established leaders may perceive inclusive movements as questioning the core of their success.
Fear: Leaders are scared of getting it wrong and being exposed to backlash.
Admitting it’s hard: In a culture where perfection is expected, progressing change, trying new initiatives, is hard.
Interested in hearing about Cubiks’ model of inclusive leadership and inclusive leader development solutions?
We conduct behaviour framework audits, facilitate inclusive leadership workshops, and provide inclusive leadership 360 feedback solutions to offer leaders valuable feedback on their leadership style.
Click here to see our inclusive leadership webpage or get in touch using the below form.
There is no quick fix to embed inclusive leadership, but recognition of the above barriers is a good first step to tackling change. Follow this by action; the below strategies have been implemented by companies leading the way with inclusive leadership initiatives. Choose the one(s) that work best for you and your context:
Raising awareness and talking about it is one of the key, more successful interventions. This dispels feelings of anxiety, defensiveness and nervousness.
Following awareness raising, the following, more structured initiatives have been successful in different organisations: