Leadership development skills for an inclusive workplace

March 28, 2019
6 min
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Today, organizational cultures are more visible than ever. Organizations that ignore this are often unpleasantly surprised when toxic elements of their cultures are exposed. Your business can stop this before it happens with strategic leadership development training focusing on the right skills.

One specific area that leaders today need to develop is inclusion. The workforce has become increasingly diverse as more and more people are receiving better opportunities. In fact, the up and coming generation is the most diverse the US has ever seen.

However, issues of diversity and inclusion are topics that top leaders are often hesitant to touch. Issues of inclusion can make people uncomfortable and there are often worries that the wrong decision might be made and cause more harm than good.

Because of this, decision makers would do well to utilize well worn and proven strategies for building an inclusive workplace. At ProHabits we’ve seen the power that certain key actions can have and the difference it can make.

To get you started, here are six essential leadership skills to build that will create a more inclusive workplace within your organization.

Rooting out silos

Despite usually being attributed to larger organizations, silos are a problem for organizations of all sizes. Siloing is the process whereby organizations separate people from one another. This can happen in all sorts of ways — both from flaws in organizational policy and from the formation of cliques.

Regardless of they form they are bad for your organization no matter what the size. As Abraham Lincoln famously said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Fortunately, siloing can be greatly mitigated with the right actions from top level and front line leadership. This involves activities that require regular conversation and intermingling with coworkers outside of people’s direct purview. More specifically, this means emphasizing reaching and starting conversations to collaborate, problem solve, or even just chat.

When organizations unites they always benefit. 

Servant leadership

Servant leadership, leadership that emphasizes service over ego and coaching over instruction, is a perfect skill for creating an atmosphere of inclusion in your workplace. This is because workplaces headed by an ego driven leader is a recipe for an exclusionary culture. Ego driven leaders are out only to advance their position and so have no reason to bring anyone else in or provide support to others.

When leaders focus on coaching, that is, on facilitating the personal growth of the people on their teams — people who might not otherwise have a chance to grow can find a place for it. Have your leaders make one on one coaching sessions with people they lead a priority.

Losing the ego

People used to having others listen to them during meetings and other such events often develop bad listening habits. They may let others speak during meetings, but they seldom listen or worse talk over others. When people’s ideas are not heard there’s no inclusion present.

From a leadership development standpoint, the antidote is developing listening habits. Leaders should be facilitating conversations rather than simply dominating them.

Actions leaders should learn to take are things like calling upon people to speak who are often left out of the discussion. And, leaders shouldn’t just leave it there — they should provide encouragement.

Diversity is best when ideas are allowed to spread and be questioned — so create a workplace of free flowing ideas. With free flowing ideas your organization will be better able to pick from a bank of ideas and find the best of all possibilities.

Making time for the little things

Big impressions can be made from little gestures and MicroActions can have a macro-level impact. When you take a closer look — the little things don’t look so little anymore.

People spend a significant amount of their waking lives at work — and the connections made there are some of the most important. Leadership development should involve teaching leaders to make positive little connections with the people that they lead.

With the busy days that leaders have, it makes sense that your leaders might not normally focus on little gestures. This is why your top level leadership should make them a priority. Have leaders carve out special times for these interactions to ensure that they happen.

Living a common purpose

Nothing brings people together like a common purpose that they work collectively to achieve. A cause — going beyond profit — that everyone can get behind.

This isn’t as idealistic as it might first sound. If you doubt the power that a common purpose can have just look to the US military.

It is often noted that the US military brings people in from all walks of life with all backgrounds beliefs and statuses. Through the training and common purpose that the military provides, all this eventually washes away and you have a group of people so tightly bound that they are willing to risk their lives and even die for one another.

While the situation in workplaces is not so extreme, purpose still holds the power to achieve new heights. With the right “why” your organization can come together and achieve what might never have been expected.

Harnessing leadership tech

With an increasingly competitive global marketplace, harnessing available tech is imperative to achieve success. However, it is rarely considered that leadership can be bolstered by technology given that it is such a deeply human activity. But it can.

At ProHabits we’ve created, and continue to develop, an innovative platform for strengthening leadership and inclusion in organizations. Our unique system delivers daily strategic actionable MicroActions straight to your leadership. When they click commit their commitment is made public on an organization wide platform — keeping them responsible for their commitment.

We’ve seen time and again the power that the ProHabits platform can have inside organizations. Too often with leadership development programs have a short term effect on leaders and their motivation only to subside shortly after. With ProHabits organizations have an effective tool for not only transforming their organization but also sustaining it.

Click here to find our more about ProHabits

John Paul

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