A New Approach to inclusive leadership
Are your inclusive leadership efforts working? Have they begun a lot of great conversations yet things are kind of left hanging in the air?
Creating and cultivating high-performing teams require a lot of intention, courage, and heart. In today’s ever-changing world, diverse and inclusive teams are more important than ever.
However, as you strive for inclusive teams, aligning the various nuances involved and what can seem like competing priorities can be challenging.
But what if we could take a step back for a moment and consider, a different approach?
Understanding the Problem
Current Inclusive Leadership training can often feel like a list of dos and don’ts.
I’ve spoken with talent leaders who have expressed concerns about inclusive leadership efforts creating strife and tension on teams.
I’ve spoken with managers of these teams and they’ve expressed that the new training and agenda being handed down from executive leadership just felt like something else to manage.
I’ve spoken with team members that have felt that the new conversation was at some level helpful but was beginning to feel like a burden and another topic for exclusion as some fellow team members relied on their lived experience to understand the conversation.
Still, I’ve spoken with other team members that felt the new conversation left them with a sense of shame and guilt for their past and maybe present behavior. As I listened, I realized this sense of guilt and shame was not the inherent problem but it was the fact that it was hanging in the air, no clear path for resolution or healing.
In these conversations what became more and more evident to me is that the conversation was being discussed, which in its own way is progress. However, the approach to the conversation was from a ‘fixing’ attitude – which anyone that is adept at change or even creating new behavioral patterns on a personal level knows, it’s so much more than just “when you know better, you do better”.
When it comes to creating lasting change, especially deep relational and behavioral change, it requires getting to the root and core of the problem at hand.
Current Inclusive efforts do not do this.
Cultivating an inclusive and high-performing team requires looking at the root causes of exclusionary behavior, disrespect, and miscommunication. The source of these issues may not be so obvious.
The Root of the Issue
I believe the root of the issue simply put – is the humanity of it all. As we’ve prioritized efficiency and productivity – compassion, empathy, and mindfulness have become de-prioritized.
This is not to say that there aren’t systemic issues that impact these conversations. I would affirm that even these systemic issues have the same root cause of not being able to see humanity across differences – race, gender, socioeconomic status, sexuality, educational background, and many others.
Add these systemic and societal issues that we all deal with and then enter the workplace that has its own set of cultural issues, demands, and pressures — the problem compounds.
What if the culture of the workforce and the team served as a way to alleviate these issues?
At first, you may think well, that’s not our job, that’s not what we are here for.
And this may be true.
Understanding the Benefits
However, over 63% of the US adult population are active members of the US workforce – most spend at least 1/3 of their waking time working, probably more in many cases.
There are two factors to consider here:
- The amount of positive impact work environments that prioritize the health and well-being of employees could have on the overall well being of this country
- The upside of healthy communication/connection on your team, increased creativity, and productivity are more readily available when your employees are happy and healthy
Ideally, we’d all be interested in contributing to the well-being of this country. And I get the priorities inside of your company are first and foremost. Fortunately, it’s not an either-or. What is good for your company is also for the larger good.
If you’re scratching your head doubting, the upside of healthy communication, let me share some groundbreaking research that aligns with this statement.
A group of researchers at Carnegie Mellon and MIT have proven that the highest levels of group intelligence are not necessarily dependent on the highest intelligence of individuals in the group. Yet, it’s primarily based on the ability of members of the group to communicate, listen, and understand each other across differences.
Another body of research, which I have been following for 15 years, is out of the Institute of Heart Math. They have shown that when people are in a state of what they call coherence of certain physiological signals, that align with love, compassion, and empathy, they are:
- More creative and productive
- Inside of relationships are better able to communicate and work through difficult times
Having an inclusive and harmonious AND high-performing team is not mutually exclusive. In fact, it turns out they are highly correlated.
We live in a time where humanity is kinda the way and by kinda I mean it is! I would love for it to be a priority regardless of the business case AND the way the world is shifting it is also the best for business
Understanding the Solution
If you’re still reading you may be wondering ok – this sounds great but easier said than done.
Getting to the root of the issue is easier said than done and almost impossible if you approach the issue at the level it was created.
You can’t solve a problem at the same consciousness at which it was created.~ Albert Einstein
In approaching these conversations whether it be in regards to inclusive leadership or any deep transformational initiative it is key to do two things:
- Creating a foundational perspective of love and harmony which requires alignment at a core level
- Cultivating the initial culture and early wins to deepen transformation and sustainability
If you’re interested in learning more, click here to access a free mini-training on Inclusive Leadership that uncovers the three steps to create more inclusive teams and improve communication, while skyrocketing creativity & productivity (it’s not what you think!).