As a leader, your ability to create a sense of inclusion and belong in the workplace is of utmost importance to the success of your team. Being an inclusive leader means being an effective communicator, valuing the perspectives and contributions of everyone and creating an environment where everyone is respected and heard. You might be asking yourself why this is necessary. We’ve seen the results when employees don’t feel valued: lack of productivity, higher attrition, poor morale, lack of innovation, and even an increase in legal issues. Yikes.
Let’s explore the concept of leading with the head and the heart, balancing both logic and emotions. While logic is essential for making data-driven decisions and analysing complex problems, emotions play a significant role in how we connect with others, build trust, and foster positive relationships.
So, how can leaders show up for their employees using both their head and their heart? Here are some tips:
- Follow the platinum rule: Remember that everyone processes, learns, and participates differently. The golden rule asks you to treat people like you would like to be treated; the platinum rule levels this up by asking you to treat people like they would like to be treated. Get to know each of your employees’ ways of working and actively strive to meet them where they are.
- Listen actively: One of the most critical skills of an inclusive leader is the ability to actively listen to their team members. When someone speaks, be fully present and engaged, and listen to understand, not just to respond. Validate their feelings and show empathy when appropriate.
- Be aware of your emotions: Emotional intelligence is crucial for inclusive leadership. It involves being aware of your own emotions, managing them appropriately, and understanding how they impact others. Pay attention to your emotions and be intentional about expressing them in a way that is authentic and constructive.
- Communicate clearly and openly: Clear communication is essential for building trust and fostering inclusion. Use language that is inclusive and respectful, and be transparent about your thought processes and decision-making. Encourage open communication among team members as well.
- Celebrate diversity: Embrace the unique perspectives and experiences that each team member brings to the table. Celebrate diversity and create opportunities for team members to learn from one another.
- Recognize and reward contributions: Inclusive leaders understand the importance of recognizing and rewarding team members for their contributions. Show appreciation for their hard work and let them know that their efforts are valued and recognized.
- Lead by example: As a leader, your actions speak louder than words. Model the behaviors you want to see in your team members, such as active listening, empathy, and inclusivity. Hold yourself accountable for creating an inclusive work environment.
Being an inclusive leader requires using both logic and emotions and bringing balance to the workplace. By actively listening, being aware of your emotions, communicating clearly and openly, celebrating diversity, recognizing and rewarding contributions, and leading by example, you can create a work environment where everyone feels valued and respected.