Leveraging diversity and inclusion among systems, cultures, and people create competitive advantage and sustained growth. Organizations and teams with deeply rooted cultures of diversity and inclusion create numerous benefits for themselves and regions of their operations. Principally, having an inclusive, diverse culture is morally prudent and because everyone works in a competitive global setting. Undoubtedly, businesses are established on interactions and connections between groups, teams, people, and organizations; the differences influence all these. Reports indicate that several teams and organizations see the benefits of inclusive leadership and diversity in principle but often struggle to attain them. Therefore, this paper describes strategies of achieving inclusive leadership and unlocking the diversity potentials.
Inclusive Leadership and Unlocking Diversity Potential Strategies
Mutual Accountability and Shared Performance Goals
Mutual accountability and shared performance goals is an essential strategy for ensuring inclusive leadership and unlocking diversity potential. Reportedly, being committed to shared performance objectives and mutual accountability implies that every member of the team is responsible for the failure or success of the team, encourages emotional dedication of each member of the team, and motivates every person to participate fully. Bourke (2016) noted that in any team where mutual accountability is respected, every person shares the responsibility to ensure that the best concepts or views are heard. In case a single team tends to claim responsibility for the failure or success of the team, they may also feel that it is satisfactory to silence controversial or opposing ideas. Understanding that everyone will fall without blaming others encourages members of the team who have unique views and ideas to raise them.
Mor Barak (2017) noted that when their complementary skills select members of a team or employees of an organization for a given purpose, leadership can change from a single member of the organization or team to another, based on the situation. This approach is critical because it encourages the diversity of views. For instance, it is sensible to have a marketing expert take charge of the problem-solving initiative on marketing or a specialist in supply chain surfacing potential supply obstacles on a given team meant to look into a product development challenge. Ultimately, the shared leadership model according to Mor Barak (2017) encourages inclusion because it makes it a habit of recognizing when a particular skill, knowledge, or experience is essentially required and valuable for leading. Moreover, it ensures that no single voice or view dominates the team or employees.
Commitment is one of the significant traits of inclusive leadership. As stated by Carmeli, Reiter-Palmon & Ziv (2010), managers with inclusive leadership are dedicated to inclusion and diversity since the stated goals are in line with their values. Usually, inclusive leaders always have authenticity regarding the agenda regarding inclusive leadership and consistency regarding diversity potentials. In this perspective, they should ensure unlock the potential of diversity by prioritizing energy, time, and resources to deal with inclusion. Principally, to prioritize, the managers should treat inclusion and diversity in a business imperative by ensuring that they are a critical component of the business plan, targets or management conversations. At the same time, the leaders must have must have an objective means of assessing whether they are attaining inclusion objectives as intended. Principally, inclusive leaders hold that fostering inclusive leadership and tapping diversity potentials emanates from them and thus they must be accountable for the change occurs. In so doing, they should set targets and let every member of the team goes out to attain the target. More importantly, they should invest in people, build shared aspirations and work together as a group.
Normally, leaders with inclusive leadership approach often pronounce and confront the status quo. Moreover, they humble themselves concerning their weaknesses and strengths (Mor Barak, 2017). Principally, ensuring inclusive leadership and unlocking diversity potential requires a bit of courage. Therefore, there is need for leaders to critically understand how the world will become and strive to change agents. In particular, they should be courageous and willing to challenge others, as well as, the status quo. In particular, they should gently challenge followers to see their actions and the effect they have on others.
Similarly, they should also have the courage to willingly challenge the entrenched organizational practices and attitudes that promote homogeneity. For instance, they should change their recruiting practices to enhance divergent thinking and fulfill the demands of various skills in the organization. To ensure inclusive leadership and unlock diversity potentials, leader and managers should be courageous to disclose their limitations. Rather than refusing to pronounce their imperfections, they should be humble and accept such inadequacies. Humility according to Mor Barak (2017) entails learning from various criticism and divergent views, as well as, getting views from others to solve the impending challenges. Therefore, the ability of leaders to have courage, self-understanding, and ability to learn and admit their imperfections enables them to unlock diversity potentials of a team as everyone will be able to contribute his or her views willingly and with respect and courage.
Cognizant Of the Bias
Reports indicate that leaders with inclusive leadership approach are aware of organizational and personal limitations. As such, they often self-regulate to assist ensure fair play (Stevens, Plaut, & Sanchez-Burks, 2008). To ensure inclusive leadership and unlock diversity potential, leaders must do various things. Individually, they should understand and critically act on the described understanding. At the same time, they should appreciate that their organization, regardless of the best intentions often has unconscious bias and therefore must implement processes, policies, and structures to mitigate the existing unconscious biases.
Biases potentially lead to decisions that are irrational and unfair. Therefore, inclusive leaders must critically understand that biases can interfere with vision and prevent them from coming up with objective decisions. They should always be sensitive to personal biases including implicit stereotypes, homophily, and attitudes, as well as, process biases including groupthink and confirmation bias (Bourke, 2016). At the same time, they should be cognizant of factors and situations including fatigue and time pressures that cause them to become more vulnerable to bias pull. More importantly, to ensure inclusive leadership and unlock diversity potentials, leaders must exert a significant effect to understand their personal biases, self-regulate and establish corrective approaches. They need to become aware that their natural conditions, without these strategies, tend to bend towards self-interest and self-cloning, and that inclusive leadership and unlocking diversity potential requires an entirely different approach.
A clear understanding of bias will assist achieve inclusive leadership and unlock diversity potential by ensuring that pay and performance ratings coupled with opportunities and promotions are allocated according to effort and capability. As such, everyone will exploit his or her full potential to ensure that such he or she gets opportunities, promotions, and other benefits in the organization. Moreover, it will ensure that processes used to decide the stated benefits are transparent, used consistently, are based on correct information, and include views of persons both affected and unaffected by such decisions. Moreover, they will ensure that process that processes that create indirect benefits for a specific group and mental limitation for another group are eradicated, thus ensuring diversity and inclusion.
Studies indicate that ensuring inclusive leadership and unlocking diversity potential requires positive and successful cross-cultural interactions (Mor Barak, 2017). Principally, the ability of inclusive leaders to function successfully in various cultural backgrounds entails having a mental map of various cultural frameworks. Although it is essential to understand cultural differences and similarities, leaders should also understand how their culture affects their personal view and the manner in which cultural stereotypes such as misuse of cultural models may affect expectations of others. Leaders must have the thirst to learning and motivation to increase their cultural knowledge and gain the skills of working in unique environments. Mor Barak (2017) noted that this curiosity would make leaders value their cultural differences, confront ethnocentric tendencies that make individuals believe that other cultures are inferior thus allowing them to establish a strong relationship with persons from various cultural backgrounds.
On the same vein, to ensure inclusive leadership and unlock diversity potential, there is need to tolerate ambiguity as this allows one to control the stress imposed by different or nee cultural environment and situations where similar behavioral or environmental cues. At the same time, they should be adept at transforming their nonverbal and verbal behaviors based on the cultural demands. Tolerating ambiguity and changing both verbal and nonverbal behaviors allow leaders to engage in cultural interactions, understand cultural practices, norms, and conventions and use the most appropriate verbal and nonverbal actions during cross-cultural interactions thus enabling different members of the team to understand and respect different cultures and contribute towards developments and innovations.
Principally, creating inclusive leadership and unlocking diversity potential entail working together, building on the ideas of each member of the team to produce new ideas or solve the existing challenges or problems (Mor Barak, 2017). Leaders need to understand that effective collaboration requires individual to be willing to share their different perspective. Therefore, through collaboration, leaders should create an environment where everyone feels respected, valued as this will empower them to unlock their potential and contribute significantly to every activity in the organization. Moreover, leaders and managers should encourage autonomy and empower every member of the team to interact with others to unlock diversity potential. Further, there is a need to create a safe environment for inclusive leadership an unlocking diversity potential since most contribute significantly when they save and free from punishment or embarrassment. Creating inclusive leadership and unlocking diversity potential entail considering whether the entire organizational infrastructure and culture such as technology and workplace design foster social connections across the teams.
Besides collaboration, inclusive leadership and unlocking diversity potential can be achieved by ensuring strategic alignment, making sure that job advertisement stresses on inclusive leadership abilities, incorporating inclusive leadership abilities in the leadership and competency model of an organization and connecting key performance indicators to inclusive traits and inclusion and diversity outcomes. Further, leaders must be held accountable for particular behaviors.
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