September 25, 2023

The key to becoming an inclusive leader: Here’s what it looks like in practice

How we define great leadership is changing over time. Instead of building a hustle culture where productivity is the No. 1 priority, we’re recognizing how crucial it is to invest in employees’ professional growth in healthy, sustainable ways. This is inclusive leadership.

Inclusive leadership is the key to a more productive, engaged, and innovative workplace. It requires executives to lead with empathy, become allies, and provide equal opportunities for historically excluded talent to advance professionally. These leaders aren’t afraid to have uncomfortable conversations if it means protecting their employees’ well-being.

Leaders set the tone for the culture and employees follow. About 34% of people say they left their job because the company culture was not what was expected, and 32% are unsatisfied with leaders, according to Employ’s Job Seeker report. Inclusive leadership has a direct impact on retention and team members’ sense of belonging.

Developing these leadership skills starts with identifying your unconscious biases, prioritizing education, and making sure equity is a part of your decision-making process.

To help leaders incorporate inclusive practices into their day-to-day work, take a look at Perfeqta’s 4A Framework for guidance.

Perfeqta’s 4A Framework for Inclusive Leadership

The 4A Framework for Inclusive Leadership gives you insight into how you can develop higher emotional intelligence and progress toward change, regardless of your title or role.

Here are the 4As broken down:

Awareness: Having the knowledge and perception of who you are and how your experiences influence your thinking and interactions.

Appetite: A desire to learn, grow, and shift your individual mindset in order to be more inclusive.

Action: Taking the necessary measures to move beyond learning and understanding to change behaviors.

Accountability: Owning and accepting responsibility for your actions and remaining open to feedback that pushes you toward inclusive practices.

Applying the 4A Framework to your day-to-day work

Here are seven ways you can use the 4A Framework to strengthen your inclusive leadership skills.

  1. Participate in workshops, discussions, or leadership development programs to better understand what triggers your biases and how to combat them.
  2. Reflect after every learning opportunity. Take notes, journal, or debrief with another team member to talk through key takeaways and how you can apply them to your organization.
  3. Listen closely to the people around you to learn more about their backgrounds, cultures, and work experiences that are different from your own. Read, listen to podcasts, and attend webinars.
  4. Set measurable goals and establish key performance indicators you will monitor over time to track progress.
  5. Be transparent with your team when you make mistakes. Explain where you went wrong and what you’re doing to correct mishaps. Create space for people to share feedback on what the leadership team needs to improve within the organization.
  6. Build meaningful relationships with the people around you who come from different backgrounds and communities. This deep connection gives you better insight into how to create psychologically safe spaces.
  7. Consult with an Executive Coach who can give feedback on how to enhance self-awareness, communicate more effectively, and lead with confidence and strength.

Inclusive leadership requires changes in beliefs and behaviors. You’ll need to identify areas for improvement, track data, and maintain open communication with your employees to continuously assess your workplace culture. This is the start of building a true culture of belonging.

Learn more about strengthening your inclusive leadership skills in our upcoming guide

Executive's Guide to Inclusive Leadership: How to Foster a Culture of Belonging in the Workplace

This resource guide covers:

  • Strategies for elevating emotional intelligence to lead more effectively.
  • Recommendations for programs and initiatives that promote lasting, equitable change.
  • Tips on how to measure the success of your inclusive leadership development and create a culture of accountability.

Click here to download your copy.

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