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The inclusive human-centered leader

If the future is capabilities-focused, then the future is human-centered too

Source | | Adam Pacifico, Cheryl Stokes

Inclusive leadership seems to be a mantra these days given everything going on in the world. More than a momentary “catchphrase,” inclusive leadership is an ability that differentiates good leaders from great leaders, as inclusiveness yields a stronger sense of belonging, which leads to higher engagement and tangibly better business results.

But what exactly do inclusive leaders do? Heidrick & Struggles’ research reveals that the most inclusive leaders value individuality, create a sense of belonging and build deep purpose and engagement in the organization.

To value individuality means to lead in a way that appreciates, attracts and leverages all talent, including diverse talent. This involves boldly seeking out new perspectives, forming strong relationships with a diverse range of individuals, playing to the diverse strengths of team members and supporting colleagues in ways that makes them comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work.  A leader who values individuality is careful to focus on the development of others and realizes that they themselves always have something to learn. 

In order to create a sense of belonging, leaders should foster a psychologically safe environment that inspires colleagues to speak their minds and share ideas, which encourages experimentation and learning. Additionally, as leaders intentionally role-model vulnerability, sensitivity and regard for others’ feelings, it demonstrates a respect and value for others that can be equally motivating and inspiring. Finally, it reinforces the ability for everyone to bring their authentic selves to the workplace. 

To build deep purpose and engagement in the organization begins with leaders who can communicate a compelling vision that builds commitment in the organization.  These leaders openly and willingly consider viewpoints that might challenge their own and consult and involve others as appropriate when planning future changes. These actions can help others find meaning and purpose in their work, and ultimately create a sense of energy and purpose in the team.

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