May 6, 2024

In today’s dynamic work landscape, the role of a manager goes beyond just overseeing tasks and deadlines. It’s about fostering an environment where every team member feels valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their best. Being an inclusive manager not only acknowledges the diversity within teams but also leverages it as a strength. 

Why is inclusive management important? Well, imagine a team where every voice is heard, every perspective is considered, and every individual feels a sense of belonging. Such an environment promotes creativity, innovation, and high morale, leading to enhanced team performance and organizational success. 

Consider Deloitte research which found that the inclusive behaviors of senior leaders and managers directly translates in increased team performance (+17%), better decision making (+20%) and improved collaboration (+29%).  

“Inclusive leaders prioritize authenticity and psychological safety to elevate employee well-being and increase business outcomes,” says Maggie Smith, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Traliant. “They encourage team members to collaborate with people who are different from themselves.  And that leads to building a better workplace where everyone feels a sense of belonging and appreciation.” 

How to practice inclusive leadership 

What leaders say and do has a significant impact on building inclusivity. Here are 6 practical steps to cultivating an inclusive management culture: 

  1. Cultivate Awareness: Acknowledge your own biases and privileges. Reflect on how these might influence your interactions and decisions as a manager. By being aware of your blind spots, you can better understand the experiences of others and create a more inclusive environment. 

Example: Suppose you’re leading a team meeting and notice that some team members are more reserved than others. Instead of assuming they have nothing to contribute, take a moment to consider if they might have valuable insights to offer if given the opportunity. 

  1. Listen Actively: Actively listening to your team members is key to fostering inclusivity. Make it a point to create space for everyone to voice their thoughts and concerns. Pay attention not only to what is being said but also to what isn’t. Encourage open dialogue and ensure that everyone feels heard and respected. 

Example: During one-on-one meetings, ask open-ended questions such as “How are you feeling about your progress on the current project?” or “Is there anything I can do to support you in achieving your goals?” Practice active listening techniques such as summarizing what you’ve heard to ensure understanding and validate their perspective.  

  1. Conflict Resolution: When conflicts arise among team members, approach them with empathy and impartiality. Act as a mediator to facilitate constructive dialogue and find mutually beneficial solutions. Encourage active listening and help team members understand each other’s perspectives. 

Example: Suppose two team members have a disagreement over a project approach. Instead of taking sides, facilitate a meeting where both parties can express their concerns and work together to find a compromise that addresses both perspectives. 

  1. Promote Equity: Strive to create equal opportunities for employment, promotion and growth and development within your team. To ensure fairness in hiring and performance review processes, base evaluations on objective criteria such as job responsibilities, skills, and performance metrics, rather than subjective judgments or biases.  

Example: Seek diverse candidates for job openings, ensuring everyone has a fair chance. During onboarding, assign mentors to help new hires settle in smoothly to foster a welcoming environment where they feel valued and supported right from the start. 

  1. Embrace Diversity: Celebrate the unique strengths and differences that each team member brings to the table. Foster a culture of inclusion where individuals are encouraged to be their authentic selves without fear of judgment or discrimination. Create opportunities for cross-cultural exchanges and learning experiences, as well as opportunities for team members to bond over shared interests and experiences to foster a sense of camaraderie and unity. 

Example: Organize team-building activities that highlight cultural diversity, such as potluck lunches featuring dishes from different cultures or sharing sessions where team members can talk about their cultural backgrounds and traditions. 

  1. Lead by Example: As a manager, your actions speak louder than words. Model inclusive behavior in your interactions with others and in the decisions you make. Be proactive in addressing any instances of bias or discrimination that may arise within the team. Show genuine empathy and support for your team members, especially during challenging times. 

Example: If a team member faces discrimination or microaggressions, address the issue promptly and provide support. Demonstrate your commitment to inclusivity by standing up for what is right and fostering a safe and supportive work environment for all. 

Inclusive workplaces rely on leaders to act as role models, translators and signals of organizational values and priorities. With inclusive practices, managers can shape positive perceptions and a supportive work culture that can enable their teams to flourish like never before.  

Click here to preview Traliant’s Inclusive Management: Managing Diverse Teams training. 

Click here to preview Traliant’s Inclusive Management: Hiring and Onboarding training.


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Mark Hudson