Inclusive Leadership Drives Talent Effectiveness

How do you build effective teams? Leadership plays a critical role in helping employees reach their highest potential, creating an environment where employees thrive and deliver on business needs. As an organization, it is important to reinforce a culture of leadership that attracts, develops and empowers future leaders. But how do you create this culture?

I am a firm believer that a diverse team is greater than the sum of its parts. In today’s fast-paced, global economy, the tactics that inclusive leaders need have fundamentally changed. The pace of the current economic climate demands innovation — innovation that can be achieved through the collective sharing of diverse perspectives. An inclusive environment fosters belonging, recognizes the uniqueness of the individual and optimizes team engagement and performance. Simply put, an inclusive environment is a catalyst for innovation. To create an inclusive work climate, successful leaders at any role or level within an organization must understand and practice three core habits:

Lead with focus. Great leaders begin thinking about the end goal of a program while anticipating the challenges and barriers that their team might face. It is important to look at each challenge from different perspectives as there is likely more than one solution. When brainstorming appropriate solutions, leaders include their team in the preparation and create a heightened potential for innovation, engagement and team success. Brainstorming teaches people how to be strategic thinkers and become better business people. This will also challenge your employees to reach outside their comfort zone and perform at a higher level as they forge path forward.

Manage situationally. Successful leaders invest in their people and cultivate relationships built on transparency, honesty and trust. Google studied the habits of effective managers and noted that to create an inclusive team environment, leaders show concern for the success and well-being of employees. “Great managers make it a priority to build trust in their teams.” Leaders have a responsibility to help employees achieve success; however, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to leading a team. Building relationships with employees means discovering the skills, passions and goals unique to each person and taking an intentional and individualized approach to developing talent and discerning career path options. Great leaders should take it a level deeper and understand their employees’ why. What is the purpose or belief that inspires them? By knowing your employees, you’ll also know how to motivate them and when to coach or consult versus when to provide more direction to achieve results.

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Lead with curiosity. Authentic leaders don’t have all the answers. Fostering an environment where employees feel comfortable contributing new ideas spurs innovation and creates great teamwork. Employees should feel empowered to think outside the box and get curious. Curiosity means asking questions, listening to colleagues’ thoughts and receiving feedback. Leaders must set the tone for a feedback-rich culture and give their employees the confidence to provide developmental feedback amongst the team. “A healthy feedback culture allows people to understand what they need to change, but does so without undermining the interpersonal trust that’s crucial for constructive workplace relationships.”

Inclusive leaders inspire greater levels of innovation, efficiency and performance. Their commitment to cultivating relationships, creating a feedback-rich environment and defining team purpose is the key to leading with success. Strong foundation and winning inclusive culture empower every employee and create true leaders at every level of the organization.

Kelly Martin

Kelly Martin
Kelly Martin is vice president of Aerotek's Chesapeake region.

Kelly Martin

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