A lot has been written lately about diversity and inclusion in the workplace. What many leaders have discovered upon more in-depth inspection of their efforts in this area, is that they have a human resources program that is compliance-based, but doesn’t do a lot to help the organization develop a diverse and inclusive culture.
People Are Watching You
As a leader, the culture you have in your organization is highly dependent on the unspoken message people receive from you. Whether you know it or not, people are watching you all the time. It doesn’t matter what you say, it matters what you do. What are these people watching for? They are observing your actions, your reactions, and your behaviors.
Personal Values that Promote a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace
As John Maxwell teaches in “The 5 Levels of Leadership,” your values drive your behavior. And since people are watching you as they decide whether to allow you to influence them, your values are important in your ability to lead. So, what values lead to a more diverse and inclusive culture?
The first value is DIVERSITY, which we define as respecting a variety of cultures and lifestyles. If you, as the leader, exhibit the value of diversity, you respect other cultures and lifestyles, and you take an interest in learning about them. You are aware of how cultural differences affect behaviors.
Another value that drives a diverse and inclusive culture is FAIRNESS, which we define as treating people and being treated fairly. Even though life may not always be fair, you never use that as an excuse to treat others unfairly. You thrive on openness, honesty, and transparency. You believe others on the team should be included in decision making. You believe in empowering others. You are extremely approachable.
Another value that promotes a diverse and inclusive culture is TEAMWORK. When you value teamwork, you value cooperation and collaboration. You value everyone working together toward a common goal. You will value the unique talents your teammates bring to the table. A diverse set of people with different points of view make for better outcomes.
Climbing the 5 Levels
When you apply these values and many others to The 5 Levels of Leadership model, you discover that at Level 1, the Position level, where your influence is tied to your title or position in the organization, you won’t misuse your authority because of your care and appreciation for others. You may also underutilize your authority to make decisions on your own, and instead do so by including others in the decision process.
At Level 2, the Permission level, where your influence is driven by the relationships you have with team members, your desire to learn about others, will make it easier for you to connect with them. Your trustworthiness will also make you approachable, which increases your team members’ tendency to buy-in to you.
At Level 3, the Production level, where your influence is affected by your ability to produce results together with your team members, you will increase your ability to drive results because people respond well to a leader who appreciates individual differences.
At Level 4, the People Development level, where your influence is high because of the personal investment you make in individuals, your appreciation of differences will cause you to naturally want to help develop and grow the people on your team.
The Courage to Change
A fourth value that comes to mind is COURAGE. When it comes to building a diverse and inclusive culture, having the courage to embrace what may not be familiar to you and the courage to embrace differences, is an important personal value. You will also exhibit the courage to examine yourself, to be more self-aware, and to not only see the difference in people but welcome and engage that difference. Have the courage to change and grow where necessary to create a diverse and inclusive culture that will take your organization to the next level.
A workplace that drives diversity and inclusion requires leadership principles that form a solid foundation.