Inclusive leadership rests on building relationships and trust – with individuals, within organisations and through diverse professional networks. An inclusive leader is someone who gets to know the individuals in their team on both a personal and professional level. This enables everyone involved to embrace a diversity of skills and thinking, and encourage and acknowledge individual contributions and achievements.
Inclusive leadership is something we all need to pay attention to and practice, though it can be challenging at the best of times. And we are arguably not in the best of times! Successful inclusivity requires us to consider our physical environment and technical infrastructure. These can hinder the building of relationships and give a false impression of inclusivity. At the moment for most the physical environment is our home and the technical environment has come to dominate our working time.
I came across this short video last week and felt it was particularly helpful at this time where most of us are working in new ways, remotely from our colleagues and with access to each other only via technology.
In an office environment, leaders and managers would encourage a team to engage with their colleagues, they create social spaces in the workplace and get the team together outside the office for work and social events. They try to encourage the use of in person meetings, video conferencing and phone calls over more impersonal text-based platforms such as email.
What about in a remote working environment?
In a remote working environment, remote teams, or teams with a large number of remote workers, are at risk of a phenomenon known as fragile trust due to the lack of face-to-face contact they have with one another. Inclusive leaders and teams can avoid fragile trust in remote teams by creating virtual spaces where people can get to know each other.
We encourage this as an Equality, Diversity & Inclusion team at King’s by using a community organising technique at the start of our meetings, in which we ask ‘a round’ question. This ensures everyone answers and introduces themselves at the beginning of meetings to help build connections and put people at ease, as well as helping create focus and presence in each of us. At the Student Attainment Committee meeting this morning we had a great one – what have you started to value in lockdown? Reflecting on this question helped us all connect as human beings during this strange time. Inclusive leaders will be encouraging the use of face-to-face communication platforms such as video conferencing as well as scheduling regular catch-ups with the whole team to celebrate achievements and to share news and good practice.
We would love to hear your ideas for how to help build and maintain trust and relationships throughout the COVID crisis and whether you find the video helpful. Please feel free to share widely.