Published 21 September, 2020

Inclusive Leadership Makes Business Sense (5 minutes read)

A classroom with one dogmatic teacher and many students will always seem less attractive than a classroom with an open- minded teacher and many students. This is because the latter promotes teamwork when it comes to achieving common goals. Moreover, as both parties work together to add value, new ideas come in freely. It’s a perfect quid pro quo situation. Whereas in the first scenario, there is a rigid method, and it is expected that the students follow it without any questions and opinions. Here, the teacher thinks that what he/she has decided to achieve common goals is in the best interest of the students. Hence, there is less scope for improvement in this case, as assumption often leads to misunderstandings. Evidently, students perform better with an interactive teacher, instead of a dogmatic one.

Hence, leaders are a very crucial part of any structural organisation. When it comes to companies, leaders are responsible for making the employees feel respected, valued and included. How does a leader awaken such strong feelings in employees? The answer is pretty simple. Mostly its dependent upon how the leader communicates with subordinates. Studies show that what leaders say and do makes 70% difference as to whether an employee feels included in an organisation. When there’s a sense of belongingness among employees, they put their best foot forward, and even walk an extra mile to achieve their targets.

Leadership or inclusivity not only enhances overall performance of workers, but also has many ither advantages:

  • PROMOTES DIVERSITY- Inclusivity and diversity go hand in hand. Diversity includes factors like age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and different perspectives of employees. Inclusivity means acceptance of all these factors in order to build a healthy community. This in turn gives greater exposure to employees, and also gives a competitive edge to the company. 85% of enterprises agree that diversity results in the most innovative ideas.
  • ATTAINS AND RETAINS TOP TALENT- A company’s missions and values are significant for a potential candidate who is willing to join the company. What the company believes in and how it approaches that belief is judged majorly by how it treats its employees. If there is inclusivity in the organisation, it’s a matter of pride for its employees, which instils loyalty. On the other hand, an employee may not think twice before bad mouthing its employer before anyone and everyone. The cause maybe that he/she feels no more than a piece of furniture in his/her place of work. By and large, inclusivity also impacts the reputation of an organisation.
  • MORE INNOVATION, LESS INTERVENTION- A good leader lets employees choose their own path to approach a problem, as he/she knows that inclusivity doesn’t mean questioning and interfering at every stage of work. As a result, the employees get space to follow their own methods without any fear. The leaders trust their employees with their work, and the employees trust leaders to provide guidance and solutions whenever needed.
  • AVOIDS RESISTANCE TO CHANGE- As inclusivity helps to build trust between the leaders and subordinates, a change is easier to accept in such an environment.  The employees follow the examples of leaders who showcase a free mindset and willingness to adapt to a transformation which will help the organisation grow. Further, employees are made an integral part of the change with leaders asking for their opinions or challenges which they may face in future.

A pedantic leader drives his/her team with fear, and that fear proves to be the cause of hinderance to organisational goals. A key quality that a good leader must possess is BEING UNBIASED, as even the faintest bias can lead to an ineffective or a negative decision making.  While we have discussed such biases in detail on one of our earlier article, we are listing down a few here as well.

There are various types of bias of such form:

  • IMPLICIT STEREOTYPES- This occurs when people judge others according to unconscious stereotypes.

Example- Even today, some managers think twice before giving high authority to a female employee because of an infamous stereotype that women may not be able to handle a certain amount of responsibilities, along with her personal responsibilities.

  • SIMILARITY ATTRACTION BIAS- The relatability one feels while interacting with people who looks and feel like themselves. A deeper connection is formed among these people.

Example- A manager and his/her subordinate hails from the same place and speaks the same language, i.e, they are culturally inclined, then the probability of them building a healthy rapport and even resulting in favouritism is quite high.

  • GROUPTHINK- It refers to the action of foregoing rationalism for group harmony.

Example- A company ignoring the facts that their product is outdated, and are unwilling to make changes to the product or bring in new products because of their inability to see reality.

  • ATTRIBUTION ERROR- This occurs when someone is wrongly blamed due to overemphasizing personal factors.

Example – In a team where there exists a groupism, an out-group member may suffer and receive a negative attribution, and end up being blamed for someone else’s mistake.

According to a research conducted by Harvard Business Review,

“Teams with inclusive leaders are 17% more likely to report that they are high performing, 20% more likely to say they make high-quality decisions, and 29% more likely to report behaving collaboratively”

The biggest takeaway from the stats mentioned above is that employee innovation drives an organisation to success. And it is the duty of a leader to enhance the innovation in an employee, which can only be done if a democratic style of leadership is followed rather than an authoritative one. Not only does it give a competitive edge, but it also helps delegate constructively, hence reducing the burden on the individual.

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