Global Learning - Inclusive Leadership - People Follow When They are Heard

Inclusion is in the air, and we must recognize, focus, and maximize the power of its conversation.

From the new Canadian Prime Minister’s inclusive leadership strategy to the U.S. presidential candidates utilizing segregation-based idealism to capture and motivate voters, inclusion as a concept has become a standalone issue that leaders must address in order to get those they wish to lead on board.

A golden rule by which many of us live is “Think before you speak.” In other words, know when to choose your words carefully.

As mentioned above, we have several U.S. presidential candidates who have chosen to embrace a ‘stick to my own kind’ / ‘different is not okay’ / ‘different is okay as long as it’s over there’ attitude not only as a mentality, but also as a campaign platform.

Agree with it; disagree with it: I’ll leave that to you.

With that said and this is all I will say about this …. When it comes to selecting your national leader, I ask that your decision be as informed as possible and, in the end, that you sincerely feel your preferred candidate will have your personal, local, national, and global interests in mind when representing you and your family as an international leader. This is what is at stake here. We are not only choosing a national leader; we are choosing a global ambassador. Okay… Deep breath… Now, back to the actual blog! 

The organizational leader takeaway that has become apparent to me in all of the recent campaigning in the U.S. and Canada is that the people want to know they are included and heard.

When they feel included and heard, they rally around the leader.

Now, acting as an organizational leader doesn’t necessarily mean one must run their leadership like a presidential campaign, full of divisive or rallying sound bites; but there are definitely some takeaways to consider when looking to unite a group around your cause.

Here are some basic steps to consider when first approaching a group as a new leader:

  • Listen. Ask and your team will tell you what they need.
  • Consider. Think over all the options in front of you, regarding how you can give your team what they need.
  • Delineate. Pros-vs.-cons each of your options.
  • Make a preliminary decision. Be sure you can outline exactly why you are making the decision you are. A leader should be able to defend every choice they make, displaying clear thought-progression.
  • Make room for new ideas. Offer your preliminary plan to your team and then ask for their input. There may always be options you hadn’t considered. Let your team know that their thoughts are welcome, and that, if they have any ideas from their perspective which haven’t been addressed, they should feel comfortable bringing them to the table. By doing this, you are not only opening the door to innovative ideas, but you are also promoting an inclusive environment. This effectively removes fear of risk-taking from your teams, which often leads to new ideas and outside-the-box thinking.
  • Make your final decision. After everything has been thought through and all parties offered options to create reasonable solutions, it’s time to make a firm decision that you can back up with a well-planned, inclusive process.
  • Leave room for change. Sometimes our decisions are great on paper, but when we get them up on their feet the practicality may not be as concrete as you once thought. Be willing to move with the flow of the project. Continue to listen to your team, and recipients of the end result will benefit from your collective work.

“Communication is the real work of leadership.”
– Nitin Nohria, Dean of Harvard Business School

Global Learning Blog - Elaine Newman

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