How to Do Inclusive Leadership—the Right Way

In recent months we’ve heard courageous voices demanding social and economic equality, and leaders within many organizations have been responding to that call by examining their own attitudes and practices.

Most of them have good intentions, but there’s a big divide between intentions and outcomes. In practice, inclusion often goes amiss, strategies for change go flat, and the potential for excellence is lost.

I’ve made a point in recent months of having each of my clients—from small-business owners to executives of major corporations—take a fresh look at their organization’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. Most of them came away from the process with a desire to genuinely do better instead of spinning their wheels with measures that didn’t create lasting change. Here’s an outline of the coaching I’ve been providing these clients on how to start doing things differently:

Increase your self-awareness. Inclusiveness starts with the leader at the helm. Begin by honestly asking yourself how well you genuinely embrace and engage in inclusion. Many leaders understand the importance of inclusion and diversity in theory and are happy to advocate for it with their words, but they’re far less comfortable taking the kind of action that creates change. Commit to taking that action and make it a priority. When you do, your commitment will reverberate throughout your organization.

Expose your blind spots. Implicit bias is built in to the human brain. That means that even the best of us—individuals and organizations—have blind spots that keep us from seeing things objectively. It takes an outsider to identify and start eliminating those blind spots, so find a consultant or coach you trust and give them a broad mandate to help you achieve change.

Deepen your relationships. After you’ve developed a higher level of self-awareness, you’re ready to begin working on social awareness—the way your beliefs and implicit biases affect your relationships with others. If you want your company to become more inclusive, start working on your own ability to create authentic relationships with your colleagues and employees. Changing an organization’s culture begins with simple acts of connection.

Invest in change. It’s one thing to say you want change, but to make it happen you need to add money, time and effort to your words. Invest in resources and people. Spend time and energy working to confront challenges and create opportunities. Identify and study your gaps and find ways to bridge them. Do what it takes to make sure every employee feels valued and knows they matter and belong.

Embody courage. Being an inclusive leader isn’t easy. Some will criticize you for your commitment, and others will criticize you for not getting the results you want right away. But I believe that every leader should pursue this path with as much determination as possible. Change requires courage, and the best way of making it happen sooner rather than later is by forging ahead.

Lead from within:  All change has to start somewhere and genuine, meaningful inclusiveness has to begin within you as a leader.


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The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

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