Inclusive leadership: Will a hug do?
Global research, April 2012
Does it go without saying that companies must adapt to these uncertain economic times if they are to survive? Clearly a return to business as usual is a recipe for a slow decline. Diversity of thinking is gaining prominence as a disruptive force to break through the status quo.
So how is this potential be unlocked and accelerated? As part of its 2011/2012 diversity and inclusion thought leadership series, Deloitte Australia investigated this question by examining recent academic research and mining the insights of six global role models from leading organizations in Norway, Australia, the United States, and India. Inclusive leadership: Will a hug do? explores what inclusive leadership means for individuals, teams and workplace practices.
This article clearly connects diversity and inclusion and defines inclusive leadership in terms of outcomes. It defines an inclusive leader as “a person who actively creates a workplace in which diverse talent is fostered, irrespective of the packaging, and in which diverse teams operate to their maximum potential”. Helpfully the article provides practical ideas to enable organizations become more inclusive and thus reap the diversity potential, arguing that unless leaders take deliberate steps to become more inclusive, diversity will not become part of business as usual.
The article is divided into three chapters and this note provides a snapshot of each.
- Where to start? Let’s start with you
The starting point for any leader who wishes to create a more inclusive workplace is themselves, and acknowledging that whilst we might aspire to make decisions objectively, a library of research shows us that our decisions are prone to bias. Being an inclusive leader means more than simply being nicer at the expense of business acumen. It requires a shift in mindset and behaviours assisted by mindfulness and curiosity that has the business outcome in mind. This is not to say that it is easy, as our habits of thinking and practice have been developed over years, and redirection will take time. This chapter provides practical ideas to help leaders become more mindful of individual and process biases, which interfere with objective decision-making, and how to take corrective actions.
- No leader is an island – working in a team
Working in diverse teams, whether cross-functional, virtual or global, can be both rewarding and frustrating. A diverse team can produce results that are far greater than the sum of its parts, but a conflicted team is every leader’s worst nightmare with wasted energy and poor output. At the heart of a team’s success stands the inclusive leader who understands that the new paradigm is less about the leader as the hero and more about the leader as an agent who develops, inspires, and enables others, a synergist that sparks the team to head in the direction that it needs to go. This chapter identifies a mature team as one in which the dissonant point of view is welcomed as enabling high performance and provides practical information on how to develop a cohesive and self-sustaining team of diverse participants. By way of example, this chapter provides ideas on how to create a team meeting, which will ensure that all voices are heard and the biases, such as group think, are minimised.
- Shaping culture – what happens when you’re not there?
The support of the CEO and leadership team is critical in creating an inclusive culture; however, without attention to an organization’s processes and practices there is a risk of misalignment and missed opportunities for reinforcement. The key objective is integration, and the key indicator is when diversity and inclusion are considered to be ‘business as usual’. This goes beyond the integration of diversity into talent management processes and includes, to some degree, every aspect of the work environment, from day-to-day practices, to the organizational structure and to the supply chain, as each has the capacity to reinforce or undermine attempts to create an inclusive environment.
Leveraging the Deloitte Diversity and Inclusion Business Integration Wheel, which depicts both the elements of the talent lifecycle and the enterprise activities that influence corporate culture, this chapter provides practical ideas about how diverse talent and diverse teams can be supported and put to good use to create robust business outcomes.
Inclusive leadership: Will a hug do? combines research insights and expert opinion to provide considered and practical ideas on how to create more inclusive workplaces so as to reap the diversity promise. A promise that goes beyond demographic diverse and includes diversity of thinking as a strategy to help navigate current economic turbulence. In order to explore the conditions for success in detail, this article examines the necessary changes from the level of the individual leader, the team and the organization. Whilst the story is still being written about how we align and leverage diversity within our daily practices, this article helps chart some of the next steps each of us must take.
To download a copy of “Inclusive Leadership: Will a hug do?” please click on the following hyperlink: Will a hug do. To find out more about Deloitte’s Inclusive leadership program email Juliet Bourke.