Leyla Okhai: The journey of inclusive leadership

Curium | 23 Jan 2019 | News | General News, Lead Change

The journey of inclusive leadership. Leyla Okhai, guest blogger and co-author of Curium’s inclusive leadership report, shares her thoughts on how learning model TetraMap® can be used to help create inclusive leaders and cultures.

Talk about diversity and inclusion

Over the years, the terms diversity and inclusion have been used often as a proxy for positive organisations: we’re diverse, therefore, we are equal and ‘good’.

If only it were that simple. Having a mix of people from various walks of life and stages doesn’t automatically make for a great workforce. It is important to think about the way in which employees are managed, led, how they can progress, be heard and feel a part of an organisation.

What exactly does is all mean?

Given the UK legislative framework and compliance, most organisations will focus on the protected characteristics such as race, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation etc.

While this is clearly important, relevant and provides a framework to measure changes in numbers, it is just one part of the picture. These aspects and elements of someone cannot be viewed in a data silo. Rather, they need to be considered as an interaction between the organisation, individual and its prevailing culture.

It’s fair to say we live in diverse world, in part, thanks to the shrinking global environment due to the internet, social media and global market places.

In order to embrace this diversity and run a successful business or organisation, leaders need to embrace this diversity, harnessing different perspectives, experiences and ways of thinking to ensure customer / client loyalty and that their employees thrive.

How can this be done?  

The power of TetraMap is in its simplicity and fun approach. Using nature as a metaphor brings people out of the day-to-day and helps them to think about their style and preferences in a new way. It is easy to remember your preferences as well as those of others, enabling you to flex and adapt your leadership for difference audiences, and to be more aware, open and receptive to difference.

TetraMap is a learning model which accelerates an understanding of self and others. At the heart of TetraMap is this belief: strength lies in valuing differences. The Elements TetraMap uses are rooted in nature and are: Earth, Air, Water and Fire.

(TetraMap is a trademark or a registered trademark of TetraMap International Limited.)

How does this help with inclusion?

This table illustrates how inclusive practice takes shape at the organisational and the team level. TetraMap can help this happen as people realise that everyone is interdependent. To achieve goals and meet objectives a synergistic approach is needed. Every Element has a part to play.

Firstly, by being conscious about our values, thoughts and behaviours, we begin to understand what we can change. Knowing our and own preferences and those of others helps us to hear them and put our views across more effectively.

It’s not about getting it right all the time. It is about asking appropriate questions and finding out more. Supporting staff is an iterative process of reflection and review.

Questions to guide this process:

  • What’s working well?
  • How do we know this? What are our success indicators?
  • Who are we supporting?
  • How are we doing this?
  • What could we do even better?
  • Which element do we find is predominant in the leadership here?
  • Which leaders really champion equality, diversity and inclusion?
  • Do your leaders have the knowledge, skills and mindset to create a diverse culture?

Being an inclusive leader is about tapping into others’ strengths and unlocking the collective intelligence of the team. If diversity and inclusion are to be an integral part of an organisation, then knowing how to work together constructively is a cornerstone of inclusive practice.

Leyla is the Director of Diverse Minds, working to create a positively productive workplace for all. Diverse Minds enables individuals and businesses to work more effectively by understanding differences and leveraging unique cultural strengths via coaching, training and consultancy. Leyla is one of the speakers at Curium’s Leadership Development Day on 7 February. Join us to find out more.

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