August 26, 2015 — Everyone who leads a team wants their employees to work well together and come up with innovative ideas. But how you go about getting the best from your team can seem challenging. The good news is that based on our research on inclusive leadership, it might not be that hard to do. We most recently examined inclusive leadership in Australia, and found important lessons for all leaders, regardless of region.
1) Back your team members.
When leading a team, we all want our employees to come up with innovative ideas and to speak up when a project isn’t going well. But proposing something new and out of the ordinary or speaking up when there are problems or mistakes can feel really risky for a team member.
It’s important to show employees and team members that you’re there for them, watching out for their best interests and backing them up when they take risks. When employees feel that this is happening, they are experiencing psychological safety, and employees who feel psychologically safe take risks, speak up about problems, are confident their mistakes won’t be held against them, and trust their teammates to collaborate rather than undermine them. Forward-thinking leaders put psychological safety at the forefront of building team dynamics.
2) Lead with EACH in mind.
In our last report on inclusive leadership, we found that managers who led with EACH behaviors—Empowerment, Accountability, Courage, and Humility—had team members who felt significantly more included than the team members of managers who led differently. The EACH managers Empowered their employees to learn and develop, held them Accountable for the work they can control, were Courageous by doing what they believed was right, and were Humble enough to admit mistakes.
Empowerment and courage significantly affected psychological safety. Managers who empower their team members signal they trust their capabilities, enabling them to feel safe taking on difficult assignments.
Managers who are courageous let their employees know that they can be counted on when the going gets rough.
How well do you use the EACH behaviors in your leadership? Take our quiz to find out!
3) Focus on inclusion.
Inclusion matters to employees. Employees experience inclusion when they have a sense of belongingness and uniqueness. Inclusive leaders value employees for both their distinct talents and skills while reinforcing important commonalities. Everyone on the team feels like an “insider.”
Importantly, feeling unique was the aspect of inclusion that had the most impact on employees’ innovation. Inclusive leaders understand that uniqueness has a real impact on diversity of thought and innovation.
Improving employee inclusion in your team can seem challenging, but practicing EACH behaviors helps strike the right balance between uniqueness and belongingness.
4) Show you’re human.
Establish better connections with your employees by showing your humanity.
Although it’s often considered taboo, leaders who are willing to be vulnerable and display their emotions and mistakes show others that it’s ok to do the same. Team members will want to support you and their teammates.
Showing that you’re human engages all the aspects of EACH leadership and is just one way to improve psychological safety and be an inclusive leader.
Check out our infographic .
Learn more about inclusion and how to be an inclusive, EACH leader by signing up for one of our free online edX courses.