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How inclusive leaders are key to change management success

2021 has been a year of rapid change for all of us: from remote-work to hybrid-work, from Black Lives Matter protests to anti-discrimination protests, our society has been through many changes. The workplace has also been through many changes, reflecting those of our society. Employees' attitudes to organizational change often sit at one of two extremes: from those for whom change fills them with dread, to those who embrace change. Employers and business leaders must lead such extremes through periods of rapid change, without losing employees, experiencing higher absenteeism or burning out their teams. Here are 3 ways that inclusive leaders are key to a successful change management.

Fostering agility and innovation through diversity

Diverse management teams are more innovative than less diverse teams, as revealed by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). BCG surveyed 1700 companies of varying sizes and countries, using the portion of revenue from products and services launched within the last 3 years, as the indicator of innovation. Companies with above-average diversity produced a greater proportion of revenue from innovation (45% of total) than from companies with below average diversity (26%). This 19% innovation-related advantage translated into overall better financial performance. Another report by McKinsey revealed that companies with higher levels of diversity outperform others by up to 15%. This outperformance is explained by what diversity brings to the table. Inclusive leaders, who value diversity, empower diverse voices to bring diverse perspectives, creating more innovative thinking and more agility, which is especially critical during periods of organisational change. By attracting and retaining a diverse range of people (different genders, backgrounds, ages, personalities, races, etc...), inclusive leaders nurture opportunities to discover more innovative solutions. Inclusive leaders understand that a diverse team should also be an inclusive team, where every employee feels heard, seen, valued and supported. Every employee should feel that their contributions are valued by their peers in the organisation. During periods of organisational change, such as COVID, remote-work, hybrid-work and reorganisation, inclusive leaders foster innovative thinking through empowering diverse voices to speak up, making teams more agile, and more ready to embrace change. Find out how to improve diversity and inclusion in your team by watching my video 5 Ways to Improve Diversity in 2021 and subscribe to my Youtube channel for more videos like this one.

Listening is the superpower for effective communication

Inclusive leaders are great active listeners and they communicate effectively during change, helping them navigate organisational change successfully. Inclusion is an important business continuity enabler. Companies that already provided flexible or hybrid work options to their employees before COVID were in a stronger position to adjust quickly and effectively to lockdowns during the pandemic. Active listening is a critical change management skill. According to Kathryn Robertson, author of ‘Active Listening: More than just Paying Attention’, active listening involves giving free and undivided attention to the speaker, listening with interest and appreciating without interrupting. Active listening is not waiting for your turn to speak. Active listening requires you listen with your whole self. During periods of organisational change, leaders should strive to create the space to listen, seeking opportunities to engage with their team, taking the time to understand the different perspectives of their team members, hearing their concerns and listening to how they are feeling. Learn how to be a better listener and diversity champion by downloading my free eBook: The Ultimate Diversity Champion Guide.

Seeking diverse voices for decision-making

Inclusive leaders include diverse voices in decision-making about change, offering better solutions to all employees. Inclusive leaders proactively seek input from a diverse set of people in their organization. They ask questions including “who will be affected by this change?”. Some of the most valuable feedback may come from people who are from another background, another ethnicity, another agr group or another gender. Inclusive leaders ask themself, “what might they know that I don’t?”, and they resist the urge to rely solely on their most trusted advisors to get change right. The concept of inclusive decision making can bring faster and better change.A research by Cloverpop, analyzing 600 business decisions made by 200 different business teams in a wide variety of companies over two years, found that inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time, teams that follow an inclusive process make decisions 2X faster with 1/2 the meetings, and decisions made and executed by diverse teams deliver 60% better results. In other words, inclusive leaders seeking diverse perspectives for decision-making are more adept at change management. To learn more about how to become a more inclusive leader, read my book: “Inclusion: the ultimate secret for an organization’s success”.

Research reveals how inclusive leaders are better suited for successful change management. With the rapid changes happening in our society and in our workplace, from new technologies that are changing the way we work at an unprecedented pace, to new social protests that are demanding a more inclusive workplace, now is the time for leaders to embrace change through inclusive leadership. If your company doesn’t act, your competitors will. Take action today to keep up with these rapid changes by contacting me to find out more about our workshop on ‘The 5 habits of an inclusive team’.

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