Are You An Inclusive Leader?

May 7, 2014What separates a great manager from a mediocre one? According to Catalyst’s new global report, Inclusive Leadership:  The View From Six Countries, it’s the ability to lead with an inclusive mindset.

What does that mean, exactly? It’s all about supporting your team and making employees feel valued for the unique talents and perspectives they bring to the table—without emphasizing their differences so much that they feel alienated. When employees feel included at work, they’re better team players and more likely to go above and beyond, suggesting new ideas and ways of getting work done—which can boost overall organizational performance.

How do you know if you’re an inclusive manager? Our report pinpoints four surprising leadership qualities that predict whether or not employees feel included. Take our quiz to see if you have them.


  1. A team member isn’t sure how to tackle a project and asks for your advice. You say:           

A) “I’d do it this way.”

B) “There’s no one way to do this, but here are some approaches that have  worked in the past.”

C) “Tell me some of the solutions you had in mind.”


  1. Your manager gives you a new project and it’s not clear how you should approach it. You:      

A) Brainstorm on your own and tell your team what you’ve decided.

B) Brainstorm on your own and ask your team which approach they prefer.

C) Encourage your team to come up with new ideas.


  1. A project you spearheaded was not as successful as you had hoped, and your boss points this out in a departmental meeting. How do you react?      

A) Blame it on factors out of your control.

B) Acknowledge that it didn’t work, saying you don’t understand why—it seemed like such a good idea.

C) Admit it didn’t work, and work with your team to find out what could have been done differently. 


  1. Everyone’s talking about your team’s great presentation. When colleagues congratulate you, you say:           

A) “Thanks, I appreciate that!”

B) “It was a group effort.”

C) “I can’t take all the credit—my team worked hard to make it happen and I’m really proud of them.”


  1. A member of your team comes up with a unique idea for a project that she’s really excited about, but has never been tried before. You think it’s promising, but you’re worried your boss won’t like it and will be critical of you for authorizing your team member to move forward. You:

A) Shoot her down. You’d rather not stick your neck out for something that may not turn out perfectly.

B) Tell your team member she can get started on it, but you may have to pull the plug.

C) Tell your team member to go ahead. Have her keep you in the loop and work with her to craft a compelling argument in favor of her project in case you encounter pushback from your boss.        


  1. You’ve recommended one of your team members for a managerial position, even though she’s never supervised anyone before. Your boss would rather bring in someone more experienced from outside. You:       

A) Don’t push it, figuring your boss will have the last word anyway. 

B) Arrange for your team member to be interviewed and hope management will be impressed enough to give her a chance.

C) Actively advocate for your team member by providing your boss with tangible examples of what she’s accomplished and explaining how she can help the organization going forward. 


  1. You’ve assigned your team a new long-term project with many moving parts and deadlines. To make sure the job gets done, you: 

A) Create a timeline of deliverables for your team members and check in with them twice a week to assess their progress.

B) Ask them to create the list of deliverables and check in with them regularly.

C) Suggest they create a timeline with specific, measurable goals and provide you with weekly progress reports.


  1. How do you generally approach the annual review process with your team?

A) Yikes! Review time is here already? You race to gather up goals for each team member—stat!

B) You hope it goes smoothly—after all, you’ve explained your expectations and held periodic check-ins throughout the year.

C) There won’t be any surprises. Each team member knows exactly what’s expected of him or her, and you’ve held weekly one-on-one meetings all year long so employees can check in and address successes and challenges.


SCORING: How’d you do?

Mostly As: Inclusive? Not so much! You’re more about your own agenda than empowering your team.  

Mostly Bs: You’re on the right track, but you still have some blind spots worth paying attention to.

Mostly Cs: Congratulations! You’re creating an inclusive culture, in which employees are more likely to be innovative and better team players. Keep up the good work!


Empowerment (questions 1 & 2):  Inclusive leaders enable team members to grow and excel by encouraging them to solve problems, come up with new ideas, and develop new skills.

Humility (questions 3 & 4): Inclusive leaders admit mistakes, learn from criticism and different points of view, and overcome their own limitations by seeking contributions from team members.

Courage (questions 5 & 6): Inclusive leaders stand up for what they believe is right, even when it means taking a risk.

Accountability (questions 7 & 8): Inclusive leaders show confidence in team members by holding them responsible for aspects of their performance that are within their control.

Read our report for more tips and tools to help you become a more inclusive leader.

View our Infographic and watch our video too!

The views expressed herein are solely those of the guest blogger and do not necessarily reflect those of Catalyst. Catalyst does not endorse any political candidates. The post and the comments are presented only for the purpose of informing the public.