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Exploring Possibilities: Inclusive Leadership
We as humans have been categorized into lots of diverse categories. Conventionally these categories vary on the basis of our caste, creed, color. Now we further differentiate on the basis of our years of birth, for example millennials. Further division is done on the basis of our sleeping habits, eating habits.
People are branded as night people, morning people, vegans, dosa liking, paratha guys, so on and so for. Each differentiation is done on the basis of some similarity or pattern. We have started calling this the new modern norm based on information and intellect. Is this actually going forward?
Let us see another aspect. Google performed a project called Aristotle, to determine and understand, what makes their high performing team better or different than other teams. They found that the level of psychological safety among the diverse team members and the level of nonjudgmental listening had a huge impact in differentiating the high performing teams from the rest.
Hence evolved the concept of “INCLUSIVE LEADERSHIP”. Diversity as a noun describes the differences between people. Inclusion means open to the variety of ideas, knowledge, perspectives. Approaches, and styles from everyone.
Let’s understand this with this example. This world is having two kinds of people depending on the hands they use to work. Left handed people and right handed people. If we ask the left-hand people, what kind of world do you live in. They will say with great dismay; we live in the right handed world. The scissors are made for right handed people, guitars, cars, are made for right handed people. We pledge, shake hands with right hands.
Even the coffee mugs are designed for right handers. Pick it from the right hand you will see the picture, from left hand, no picture. Now if the left handed people cry for discrimination, most, right handers will judge this to be ridiculous.
Because they have a right handed experience. Idea is that if we are in a group, my group culture, my group idiosyncrasies become invisible and they become the norm. When we are the part of the majority we do not have to think of inclusion, we already are included. It's when we are on the other side we need the inclusion. That's where the inclusive leadership comes to play. The 3D leadership. The 3rd dimension, which we miss otherwise.
Inclusion goes beyond simply having a diverse pool of people together. What happens if we put similar background people together for brainstorming. Perhaps they will have average discussions and will come out with similar ideas readily agreeing with each other most of the time. Now if we place people with different backgrounds together in a room and ask them to solve a problem.
They will look at problems and difficulties in a different way. This will also magnify the creativity of the group. Inclusive leadership is about taking action to get everybody’s voice heard. In an inclusive organization every employee feels participative and engaged. That is a key fact, which inclusive leaders make possible in their teams.
So if the diverse groups are managed well, their performance exceeds than otherwise conventional groups. On the other hand, if the diverse groups are not managed well, the group can be in shatters, forget performance.
How can we assess whether we are an inclusive leader? A very crude and simple way. Ask yourself a question, what is the perceived risk of someone who disagrees with you in public. Higher the perceived risk, lesser the inclusion in your leadership and vice versa. It's very important to understand that if we have a brain, we have bias, an unconscious bias. Our goal as inclusive leaders is to manage our brain in action, because higher possibilities do not settle in biased brains.....
(The author is a Certified Designed Thinking Master practitioner and Clifton Certified Strength Finder Coach, Corporate Trainer and a Leadership coach. He is based in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, India.)