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What do inclusive leaders actually do?

We hear a lot about inclusive leadership these days, and understand that leaders want tangible ideas and examples to help bring the concept to life. 

So we’ve put together ten small ways leaders can signal diversity of thought and background is valued, respected, and encouraged. 

While these behaviours may seem small, they have a huge impact on team members. And they expand on simply offering praise for a job well done (though that’s really important too).

They validate the contributions of others, create psychological safety, and avoid blindspots in our thinking. All of this helps people flourish, work better together, and generate new ideas and solutions for the business.

The list draws on examples shared by leaders in our Inclusive Leadership workshops as well as research on ways to harness inclusion in the workplace.

You might like to reflect on which actions you do well, and which ones you can fine-tune to help people feel less like a number and more like a valued contributor. As we listed these, a number resonated for me as ways I can strengthen my own leadership and team-building skills.

As you read them, you might also like to keep in mind the description from diversity advocate, Verna Myers,  ‘Diversity is being invited to the party; Inclusion is being asked to dance’.

Inclusive leaders invite people in Photo: Getty Images

Inclusive leaders invite people in 

Photo: Getty Images

  1. ‘When we’re making a big decision, I try to seek out lots of different perspectives to generate new ideas and plan for different scenarios.’
  2. ‘I explicitly invite my direct reports to offer an alternative viewpoint to mine in meetings.’
  3. ‘I let people know it’s okay to take risks, learn, and share those mistakes.’
  4. ‘I wait till everyone else has had their say before I share my view, to avoid the risk of thought cascades and groupthink.’
  5. ‘I try to rein in my automatic defensiveness when someone challenges my preferred way – but it’s not easy!’
  6. ‘I try to stay alert to unconscious biases like affinity bias and priming so we don’t inadvertently exclude people in the group.’
  7. ‘I make an effort to acknowledge everyone in the office, and give someone my full attention when they’re talking with me’.
  8. ‘It sounds simple, but I ask for the correct pronunciation of an unfamiliar name and try to get it right.’
  9. ‘I’ve been taking an interest in the nonwork lives of people, especially those not in my usual ‘in-group.’
  10. ‘I’ve asked the team about their preferred ways to collaborate and stay up to date, rather than assuming a one-hour weekly meeting and Friday night drinks (which we’ve always done) is the best way.’


Through our leadership development programs (workshops and coaching), we explore these and many other tangible ways to improve inclusion and diversity progress in organisations, and the positive impact they have on individuals, teams, and business results.

We look at how unconscious biases inadvertently reinforce exclusion in the workplace and how reducing them helps create a sense of belonging and engagement. Our approach is underpinned by the notion the ‘privilege of oblivion’ leads to awareness deficits in how we lead.

For more information on our Inclusive Leadership programs, please call Dr Katie Spearritt or Anna Carter in our office on: 1800 571 999 or email:

‘Our Inclusive Leadership workshop approach is underpinned by the notion the ‘privilege of oblivion’ leads to awareness deficits in how we lead and interact with others. So we have to actively invite different perspectives and approaches.’

— Dr Katie Spearritt, CEO, Diversity Partners

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About Dr Katie Spearritt

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