I came across yet another great article in what’s quickly becoming my favorite business journal, Harvard Business Review, and wanted to summarize it for you here. Titled “Why Inclusive Leaders Are Good for Organizations, and How to Become One,” the article discusses that while yes, companies are increasingly relying on diverse, multidisciplinary teams and that’s a good thing, simply throwing a mix of people together doesn’t guarantee high performance. Instead, as the article noted, these types of teams require “inclusive leadership — leadership that assures that all team members feel they’re treated respectfully and fairly, are valued and sense that they belong, and are confident and inspired.”

And wisely, the article, written by Juliet Bourke, a partner, and Andrea Espedido, a consultant at Human Capital, Deloitte Australia, pointed out that inclusiveness also directly enhances performance. Teams with inclusive leaders are 17 percent more likely to report that they’re high performing, 20 percent more likely to say they make high-quality decisions, and 29 percent more likely to report behaving collaboratively, according to research the writers conducted.

What I also liked about the article is that it called out specific actions leaders can take to become more inclusive. By surveying more than 4,100 employees about inclusion, interviewing highly inclusive leaders, and reviewing academic literature on leadership, the writers came up with six traits that distinguish inclusive leaders from others. They include the following:

  • Visible commitment: They articulate authentic commitment to diversity, challenge the status quo, hold others accountable, and make diversity and inclusion a personal priority.
  • Humility: They’re modest about capabilities, admit mistakes, and create the space for others to contribute.
  • Awareness of bias: They show awareness of personal blind spots as well as flaws in the system, and work hard to ensure meritocracy.
  • Curiosity about others: They demonstrate an open mind-set and deep curiosity about others, listen without judgment, and seek with empathy to understand those around them.
  • Cultural intelligence: They’re attentive to others’ cultures and adapt as required.
  • Effective collaboration: They empower others, pay attention to diversity of thinking and psychological safety, and focus on team cohesion.

Now it’s time for you to reflect a bit here. Are you practicing inclusive leadership? And if not, is this something you’d like to focus on going forward in your career? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject! Please drop me a line at mcampanelli@napco.com, and perhaps I can write a follow-up article based on your feedback about this important topic. I look forward to hearing from you!

Melissa Campanelli
Women in Retail Leadership Circle