Why is it so important that leaders are inclusive?

Posted on 12th April 2022

For a host of reasons…but first we need to be clear about the difference between diversity and inclusion, as they are not synonymous.

If we use the analogy of an orchestra: having a diversity of musicians and instruments does not itself produce an outstanding performance; this can only occur when these musicians using their unique talent and experience, work in collaboration, guided by the conductor (leader).

Why organisations/leaders need diversity (apart from the obvious ethical reason):

  • Because society is diverse; Organisations cannot truly serve their diverse customers/stakeholders/community/wider society effectively if they do not reflect such diversity in their internal talent. Furthermore, they will be less able attract the diversity of talent on which their future success, or survival, depends.
  • Cloning the same type of employees, senior managers, and professionals in an organisation will strengthen traditional, out-dated ways of operating, thinking, and of approaching problems, and will increase the chances of ultimate obsolescence. 
  • Innovation and adaptability are crucial for survival in a world of constant change – of ‘never-ending white water’ – which requires intellectual and perceptual versatility and agility. 

Why leaders need to be inclusive:

  • Genuinely embracing diversity and inclusion enables organisations to view the world through the eyes of different perspectives and experiences, cultural background and values; it offers opportunities for daily challenge (‘cognitive catalysts’) to accustomed way of perceiving and judging situations, issues, ideas, through conversations and collaboration. It strengthens cultures of openness and of learning – so critical in our VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world
  • Connectivity is becoming crucially important in our global environment. Genuine collaboration within, and between organisations, and people with very different backgrounds, expertise, experience, provides our organisation, and teams, with the potential for daily stimulation and learning, which, in turn, influences our effectiveness. It also provides access to additional resources in an extraordinarily challenging world.
  • Organisations need to utilise the talent that resides in every one of its employees to be able ‘to do more with less’, and because diversity brings constant challenge to assumptions that there’s only one vision, one solution, one means of achieving the vision and aims of the organisation, it broadens and deepens the quality of resources at its disposal.

 Extract taken from an interview with Professor Beverly Alimo-Metcalfe by A-Speakers