Let’s talk about Chris, a newly appointed leader.
Chris has just been promoted to lead an accounts team of four people in her company. She is determined to do a good job of it. She knows her new team will have challenging but achievable targets.
She is, however, worried about how to lead people. Over the past five years in the same organisation, she has experienced poor leadership. Her CEO and immediate manager, John, has a very aggressive approach, has a couple of favourites that he spends more time with and does not listen to or support his people. There is low morale in John’s company of 20 people and there is a high turnover of staff.
Chris wants to ensure that her own team are highly motivated to achieve their targets so she researches what she might do. She comes across the concept of inclusive leadership. But how can Chris use an inclusive leadership style to motivate her team?
Firstly, what is inclusive leadership?
I love this definition of inclusive leadership from Juliet Bourke and Andrea Espedido. It is ‘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.’
Their research suggests that teams with inclusive leaders are ‘17% more likely to report that they are high performing’ and ‘20% more likely to say they make high-quality decisions’.
There is much that companies can do from an organisational perspective to become more inclusive. But what can an individual manager do with their team?
I list four action areas that you should consider as a leader to improve the motivation of the team using an inclusive leadership style. These are adapted from findings looking at inclusive leadership in an article by Deloitte:
1. Make your team feel valued
Learn about who your team are and what motivates them. Listen to their needs and adapt as required. Show interest in what is important to each of your team members. This can be within their work but also outside of work. You may, for example, have team members who have young family. As a manager, find out what you can reasonably do for them should a family emergency situation occur. Ask, how can they meet their family obligation whilst at the same time continue to deliver on their work.
2. Treat everyone fairly and with respect
Give everyone the same level of attention, recognition and support. This can be difficult as team members may have different needs and they will each have different backgrounds and personalities. You can start this in your team meetings. Let people have equal chances to contribute to the agenda. During the meeting time, give them a safe and open space to communicate their views and any concerns that they might have. Show that you value everyone’s contribution and recognise the achievements of your team.
3. Be open and honest about your limitations
Ask for help and advice from your team when you need to. Especially when you are not an expert and you have the expertise in your team that can help you. For example, you may have made a bad decision on a project you are leading on. Acknowledge your mistake and look to learn about what you could do differently so that it does not happen again. Invite your team members to give you suggestions for how to improve on the decision making.
4. Empower your team
Once you have set the goals and direction of what your team needs to do, allow them to execute their work in their own way. Allow them to make their own decisions and keep them accountable for their own performance. Support them should there be a need to take any corrective action on achieving their objectives. Do make sure you give them any training they need as appropriate.
These all require commitment to making them part of your leadership routine. I suggest focusing on one or two of these at a time for say a couple of months to really embed these into the way that you work. Set yourself a goal for each area you are focusing on and review what you have done every week.
Now, let me ask you a question (or two). How many of these have you seen done well (or not so well) within your own organisation?
What will you do to incorporate these into your own or your manager’s leadership style?
I would be delighted to read your answers. Please either use the comment section below or send me a direct message via the button below.
Mario Moustras PhD is a coach, facilitator and trainer. Passionate about leadership, entrepreneurship and developing people.
This article was first published on 20 December 2019 by our friends at HR Innovate, a recruitment agency based in Cyprus. The original article can be found on their blog page at https://www.hrinnovate.org