What is “inclusive leadership”, why is it important and can people be trained to integrate the principles of being an inclusive leader? These are the questions that are being addressed by the most progressive organisations. Symmetra, through its program of Inclusive Leadership Training, has achieved remarkable success in moving forward the needle of inclusive leadership in organisations which have engaged it.
Today it is increasingly realised and widely accepted that diverse teams and diverse organisations outperform homogeneous ones. Diverse teams may be composed of men and women, people from a variety of ethnicities, of different age groups, different sexual orientation or simply people whose style of thinking is unusual or unconventional.
However, just establishing a diverse group of people in a team or more broadly in an organisation, will not necessarily produce outstanding results. Each member of the team needs to feel included and acknowledged for their contribution. Put simply, the goal is that everyone must feel that they belong and are included because their difference and individuality are valued. A special type of leadership is generally required to leverage the potential which exists in a diverse group. This added element which can transform a loose group of diverse individuals into a potent cohesive force is commonly described as “inclusive leadership“.
Thus “diversity “has come to be inextricably linked with its counterpart “inclusion”. Amongst those who are familiar with modern workplace terminology, diversity and inclusion are interlocking parts of a single organisational strategy. Together they constitute cultural yardstick to strive for which will then drive the organisation to be high-performing. Organisations which are truly diverse and inclusive are better positioned to optimise the performance of their employees. These organisations are also likely to be more innovative and productive than their competitors.
To be described as an inclusive organisation means that Inclusion Is an embedded part of the culture. As with other desirable behaviours, inclusiveness will be reproduced down the management and employee chain if it is displayed by the leaders of the organisation. The Leader's words and actions must consistently show that inclusion is not just a vague idea but is a function of the way the business is run.
For this reason, it becomes vitally important to determine whether a leader can be described as an “ïnclusive leader “. The modern paradigm of being an inclusive leader which has been developed by Symmetra after conducting programs with many hundreds of top global leaders goes beyond just valuing and being respectful of difference.
An inclusive leader will embed psychological safety so that people who have ideas that are different or unconventional will feel safe to express them. An inclusive leader will span geographical, divisional and functional boundaries so that diversity of thought can be accessed wherever it is. And Inclusive leaders are flexible, agile and responsive and cognisant of the ever-accelerating pace of change.
Symmetra’s inclusive leadership training program is designed to test, assess and enhance the inclusivity skills of leaders. Commencing with the application of Symmetra’s dedicated 360 degree online assessment tool and followed by personalised and highly -professional coaching sessions it provides clarity about the features of inclusive leadership; sets out a targeted and individualised learning journey for leaders and teams; measures and recognises people for their inclusive behaviours; promotes psychological safety training and embedding a culture which reflects the prevalence of psychological safety at all levels of the organisation, and enables leaders to benchmark progress by retesting.