Why you should become an inclusive leader (and how to do it)

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    My passion and drive to be an inclusive leader is heavily shaped by my experiences as an openly gay man since my first corporate job in early 1982, so I know first hand what inclusion can mean for someone. Inclusion in the workplace empowers people to go beyond their comfort zone with support and comes with a responsibility for modeling, mentoring and monitoring.

    It means being focused on bringing together people who would otherwise be rejected, isolated or marginalized – and as more millennials and those in Gen Z join the workforce, it often means bridging the generation gaps between employees, whether they are leaders or not. But the five generations in the workplace are looking for inclusion in different ways.

    Leaders have a high visibility role and people pay attention to what they should and should not do. As more organizations move into the space to create a workplace for all, connectedness is now a critical business tenet.

    You are cordially invited to a including leader – so how are you going to react?

    The 5 generations and inclusion

    Traditionalists are the elders of the workplace, known for their resilience and values-driven work ethic. Then came the baby boomers, who once made up the bulk of the workforce, and are tied to hard work and adhering to structured systems.

    Related: How to improve communication between generations in the workplace?

    Often referred to as the sandwich generation, Gen X identifies as independent with a desire for balance. Meanwhile, millennials have become the majority generation in the workplace, bringing significant changes to the status quo. This generation strives to find purpose in their work, which requires transparency, and desires flexibility in their work – just like Gen Z.

    Millennials are entering leadership roles in large numbers. Their leadership style is characterized by challenging the status quo, striving for greater innovation and seeking growth opportunities in a large number of companies. One of the essential things for a millennial leader or employee is inclusion in the workplace. This generation is committed to change when it comes to inclusive leadership.

    The baby boom generation has been the most populous group in the workforce for a significant number of years. They were influenced by those who held leadership positions when they entered the job market. While baby boomers steered other baby boomers, there was limited conflict based on generational groupthink.

    But as other generations entered the workforce, there was a clash of generational traits and traits.

    The generalization should not be made that all baby boomers lead from a rigid and structured style or that all millennial leaders lead from a relaxed and casual style. Seeing individual leadership styles for what they are and assessing whether they keep up with the expectations and demands of a diverse workforce is crucial.

    Related: Developing Strategies That Close the Leadership Gap with the Generation Gap?

    How do you become an inclusive leader?

    There are three things every leader must recognize and act upon to build an inclusive leadership style.

    1. To trust: Working with people of different skills who know how to do their job and create the expected results.
    2. Permission: Inviting people to work on new things that build skills and expand their reach.
    3. Collaboration: Working with people to collaborate who have complementary skills.

    Inclusive leaders should also incorporate these three traits into their unique leadership style.

    1. Integrity: This is a critical foundation that rests on a leader’s values ​​and beliefs. The inclusive leader must align with the organization’s mission, vision and values ​​to make a difference.
    2. Influence: One of the most important functions of an inclusive leader is to manage performance. The inclusive leader relies on proven tactics such as coaching to bring out the best in people.
    3. Result: Inclusive leaders are tasked with delivering a set of outcomes and outcomes associated with a company’s strategic plan, and they keep a focus on collaboration to successfully reach the finish line.

    Inclusive leaders face an unprecedented challenge in the fact that there are five generations. There are leaders in today’s organizations who may be from one generation, while leading a team of individuals from four other generations, who all think differently.

    Related: Every leader should be an ally: how to implement diversity and inclusion in your company?

    Organizations that consciously want to develop their culture and leadership style, focused on inclusion and belonging, experience these competitive advantages.

    1. Recruit and retain a diverse workforce that has a sense of belonging and a sense of belonging is more likely to stick around in the long run. Higher retention rates reduce the unnecessary costs of rehiring and replenishing individuals who drop out within a short time frame.
    2. Promote and Support creativity and innovation enable individuals to feel valued, included and respected. These three can lead to a culture of belonging.
    3. Develop and grow Diverse talent in an organization focused on inclusive leadership shows others in the company that they can achieve very similar career goals to the people who are similar to them.

    Both the individual leader and the organization will gain a huge competitive advantage in workforce impact when they are deliberately focused on modeling the actions that lead to inclusion and belonging.

    So how are you going to respond to the invitation to be a more inclusive leader? The choice is yours.

    Related: I came out as gay in the 80’s. It was the best thing I’ve ever done for my career.

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