The success of an organization, once heavily reliant on the type of leaders atop the org chart, is now much more dependent on the ability of those leaders to be inclusive and collaborative.
That said, it is important to understand that being an inclusive leader doesn’t mean assembling a diverse team and hoping for the best. Rather, it means doing the legwork, recruiting the most qualified people, and onboarding them in the best possible way.
According to Deloitte, inclusiveness improves performance by 17 percent, decision-making by 20 percent and collaboration by 20 percent. Deloitte also cites literature from Apple Inc. saying that “(t)he most innovative company must also be the most diverse,” and which goes on to assert the following:
“We take a holistic view of diversity that looks beyond usual measurements. A view that includes the varied perspectives of our employees as well as app developers, suppliers, and anyone who aspires to a future in tech. Because we know new ideas come from diverse ways of seeing things.”
Glassdoor notes that companies like General Motors, Salesforce and Slack have redoubled their diversity efforts in recent years. These efforts are also reflected in healthcare organizations such as Banner Health and Ochsner Health.
Banner Health has zeroed in on veterans groups in its recruitment efforts, while making diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) focal points. Ochsner Health hired a diversity officer in February 2020, and four months later formed a System Diversity and Inclusion Council.
What are the characteristics of inclusive leaders? The Harvard Business Review listed six things in a 2020 piece on the topic, starting with commitment and humility and including cultural intelligence, curiosity about others, an awareness of bias and a willingness to collaborate.
The piece advised that leaders would do well to form an advisory board (as was the case at Ochsner Health), and that it is also wise to be transparent about the manner in which they have grown cognizant of bias. Beyond that, it is beneficial for those in positions of responsibility to expose themselves to different perspectives, situations and experiences within their own workplace – to visit different areas of the company and become aware of the day-to-day experience of all their reports.
The latter is the case at The Allure Group, where founder and chairman Joel Landau and each member of the management team periodically visit departments within all six Allure facilities. They answer questions and try to understand everything they can about every employee. This is invaluable in terms of trust, collaboration and inclusiveness. Barriers are broken down. A connection is created.
The HBR, in another piece, quoted a study showing that just over one-third of all business leaders – 36 percent – viewed their inclusiveness as others did. Roughly one-third overrated their abilities on that front, and another third underrated them.
In sum, inclusiveness matters. That’s because it opens new horizons and exposes organizations to new ideas. It fosters creativity and collaboration, and ultimately results in greater success. There simply is no downside.