Making inclusive leadership our business
One year on from the launch of WMCA Leadership Commission’s ‘Leaders Like You’ report into the lack of diversity among Midlands leaders, the University of Birmingham Business School hosted its ‘Making inclusive leadership our business’ conference.
The conference brought together leaders – political, business and academic – from across the region to share their practical examples of creating inclusive organisations. Speakers included Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, Karl Edge, Regional Chairman of KPMG, and Katie Fulcher, Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership.
In short, a lot has been done in a year but there remains much to do. The unique diversity profile of the West Midlands is a huge asset but there is a significant leadership diversity gap. Ideas and insights included:
- Set the tone from the top – inclusion has to be a priority for an organisation’s leaders; something they champion and support
- Experiment and explore – you won’t always get it right but be open to trying something new or different
- Empower others – create a culture of psychological safety in which people feel empowered to challenge and create
- Trust that the intention – you and others might make mistakes, but make it safe to do so
- Don’t make assumptions – ask
- Drive incremental change – bit by bit, day by day because small changes add up to something bigger
As Harvard Business Review said earlier this year, “Companies increasingly rely on diverse, multidisciplinary teams that combine the collective capabilities of women and men, people of different cultural heritage, and younger and older workers.
“But simply throwing a mix of people together doesn’t guarantee high performance; it requires inclusive leadership – leadership that assures that all team members feel they are treated respectfully and fairly, are valued and sense that they belong, and are confident and inspired.”
Curium has done its own research into inclusive leadership. It surveyed managers and supervisors in business sectors including telecommunications, retail and leisure, and financial services. Each of them has experienced TetraMap®, a learning model that accelerates an understanding of self and others.
The results show that people with a high Earth preference – who are typically task and outcome focused – are more likely to be in senior roles. More people-focused individuals – those with a high Water preference – are less commonly found in leadership roles.
It isn’t surprising that someone more focused on goals, decisions and delivery will attain a leadership role. But, does this focus make them best suited to getting the most from their diverse range of employees and to fostering a culture of innovation and creativity?
Inclusive leaders embrace diversity, harnessing different perspectives, experiences and ways of thinking to ensure their organisations and their employees thrive. For the full results and reflections on developing the mindset and skills needed to become an inclusive leader, read at the report: ‘Empowering inclusive leadership in a diverse world’.