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Using Inclusive Leadership Styles
Using Inclusive Leadership Styles

Photo of an inclusive leader in a suitFrom what I see up close as an HR Consultant and Executive Coach, this is a tough time to be a leader. Modern and inclusive leadership is dynamic, requiring adaptability and finesse to navigate many different challenges, opportunities, and circumstances. The traditional top-down approach, characterized by authority and hierarchy, is giving way to a style of inclusive leadership that embraces the power of every individual’s unique perspective, contributions, and potential.

Due to the rapidly evolving world and workplace, it’s time to challenge conventional styles of leadership and reshape how we think about guiding teams and organizations. Beyond the traditional notions of authority and direction, inclusive leadership stands as a catalyst for change, amplifying the voices of every individual within an organization.

Autocratic Leadership: Effective in Crisis

Believe it or not, I do believe there is a time and place for traditional autocratic leadership. An autocratic leadership style finds its footing best in times of urgency and crisis. Imagine a fire captain confronting a blazing inferno. In the face of imminent danger, there’s no luxury of time for consensus-building. Decisions are swift, and orders must be executed promptly.

This approach is a lifesaver in emergencies but should not be the norm outside such contexts.

RCMP in formation, not known for inclusive leadershipA common challenge emerges when leaders lean toward an autocratic approach, expecting obedience through authority. This style might alienate employees who want an opportunity to contribute while also having some autonomy.

Newly promoted leaders might fall into the trap of emulating stereotypical leadership behaviours, replicating what they’ve seen and experienced from other leaders, even when they didn’t like how they were treated.. This often stems from an inexperienced leader’s attempt to conform to a leadership template. Seasoned employees, however, see through this façade, recognizing it as a sign of the leader’s lack of confidence, experience and essential skills.

It’s worth noting that although autocratic leadership suits specific emergencies, its huge flaw is that it may hinder employee initiative and input. This style can stifle creativity and hinder growth, especially within innovative and dynamic industries and organizations.

Democratic Leadership: Shares the Power and Some of the Burden

Instead of commanding like a stereotypical drill sergeant, good modern leaders cultivate an environment in which everyone is welcome to contribute. Inclusive leaders understand the importance of switching gears based on context, and respecting the uniqueness of each team member’s contributions and potential.

Democratic leadership thrives on teamwork and shared decision-making. Collaborative by nature, it emphasizes collective insights and viewpoints. This approach shines when leaders collaborate closely with their team, actively engaging their ideas and concerns. Yet, it’s vital to strike a balance, allowing employees the autonomy to make individual choices within established guidelines.

This style fuels creativity, fosters teamwork, and ensures alignment between strategy and tactics during crucial decisions. While it might slow down the decision-making process, the empowerment it engenders in employees can ramp up engagement and make an organization more agile and efficient.

Unleashing Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership emphasizes self-development and empowerment. Transformational leaders create an atmosphere conducive to growth, motivating individuals both personally and professionally. This style instills a sense of shared purpose, encouraging innovation and ideas.

Ava DuVernay, an example of a transformational leaderThink of the disruptors who reshaped industries — Henry Ford, Lisa Price (founder of Carol’s Daughter, a hair and skincare company), Jeff Bezos, and Ava DuVernay (a ground-breaking director, producer, and screenwriter). Their transformational leadership shattered norms, igniting innovation and cultural shifts within their industries. While not every leader achieves such monumental impact(s), embracing a transformational approach fosters innovation and creativity.

Navigating Delegative Leadership

Delegative leadership focuses on assigning responsibilities to skilled employees. Leaders operate on a strategic level, entrusting managers with day-to-day operations. Utilizing the delegative leadership style can prove advantageous when working with a proficient and capable team, whose members are also eager to step up and shoulder the responsibilities aligned with their decision-making authority.

When all team members are clear about their respective roles, exhibit strong collaborative dynamics, and concentrate on distinct business domains or tasks, this form of delegation can yield highly favourable outcomes. It allows leaders to focus on strategic vision while granting their team the freedom to execute.

Inclusive Leadership is Surprisingly Versatile

Inclusive leadership orchestrates and includes a symphony of styles. In times of crisis, autocratic leadership takes the lead, swiftly responding to emergencies. However, outside crises, an inclusive leader shifts to democratic and participative styles, promoting collaboration and individual contribution.

inclusive leadership - with diverse employeesIt’s about leveraging each style’s strengths to create a well-rounded leadership approach as you’re faced with different situations. Regardless of the mechanics, a modern and inclusive leader is focused on encouraging, developing, and making the best use of the talents within their organization or sphere of influence – regardless of who delivers those contributions. In other words, truly inclusive leaders welcome contributions from team members from different faith communities, neurodivergent/physical abilities, skin colours, genders, cultures, and sexual identities – without tokenization or other problematic biases. They recognize the humanity and potential of their team members and find ways to help others develop and live up to their potential.

happy muslim woman at work

The inclusive leader understands their assignment: to create an environment in which people feel enough psychological safety that they can focus on doing their best work without worrying about protecting themselves from mistreatment. Inclusive leadership requires maturity and emotional intelligence to read the room when employees are trying to remain under the radar within a toxic workplace. In too many organizations, employees quietly tolerate harassment, bullying, exclusion, discrimination, and racism. Tolerating this mistreatment takes a toll on the victims, but it also distracts them from completing their work. When these toxic characteristics take root within an organization, it can take a long time to turn things around by reducing these counterproductive workplace behaviours. It’s only with true inclusion and belonging that we can discover ways to amplify individual strengths, foster innovation, and empower every team member to contribute meaningfully.

Did this article spark any career-related or leadership questions, plans or concerns?

Reach out today for a free and confidential initial consultation by phone, email, or via direct message on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

More than career coaching, it’s career psychology®.

I/O Advisory Services Inc. – Building Resilient Careers and Organizations TM.

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