Leadership thinking evolves. Important changes in what constitutes sound leadership can fill us with self-doubt. Particularly when you are being called upon to do things that are outside of your comfort zone or your natural leadership inclination.
Early on in our careers, we are exposed to personality indexes. The reference profiles can read like horoscopes. We pick through the highlighted personality traits to see what we recognize. What aspects feel entirely comfortable as part of our authentic selves.
Now we have been confronted with a shopping list of necessary people-oriented inclusive leadership traits. For a lot of us, these are outside our dominant inclinations. If we are honest, we know we might battle to make our diverse team members feel truly valued, respected and treated fairly on a consistent basis. Given its importance and our true commitment to leadership inclusion, we do not want to fail.
The good news is that personality profiles create awareness and opportunity for self-reflection. This is of course a building block of good inclusive leadership. We have been made aware of our own potential limitations, strengths and have some knowledge of our own biases and preferences. Rather than looking at our profiles as a box we can start to see them as a piece of a puzzle. As with all puzzles it will be hugely beneficial to slot in the unique array of other pieces whilst creating an amazing piece of artistic work. If you can just figure it all out.
When we are leaders, we consume an enormous amount of material on what it takes to be great leaders. The one consistent message is that it is hard. It normally requires courage, persistence and discipline to progress.
Genuine adoption and adaptation with integrity in the context of diversity and inclusion goals is not fake. Leadership is about intent. Leaders see the future they want for themselves and others and will do what it takes in the present to realize this.
If we are committed to a vision of what inclusive leadership can achieve most of us can master the basics that are critical: encourage full participation; empower others; display empathy; actively seek out and genuinely consider different views; champion curiosity and innovation; show optimism; promote collaboration; find win-win solutions, accommodate everyone; model humility; build cultural intelligence; minimize disruptions, tensions, and uncertainty. Active practice will strengthen these abilities in us over time.
Importantly, there is definitely nothing wrong with being transparent that you have limitations if inclusive leadership requirement tests you. In fact, being open in this regard within your team is likely to strengthen their desire to be supportive. This honesty opens the doors of dialogue and sets the tone of risking vulnerability. Being frank on your limitations and blind spots will build trust. This sincere sharing is a clear message that you value group success beyond your reputation and status.