Apr 8, 2020
There is a call for leadership to show up differently, right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is up to us as leaders to shape how we can serve our families, communities, organizations and teams during this unprecedented time. Currently, there’s a lot of buzz regarding leadership’s role to reach out, communicate, understand and empathize. This blog challenges the face of the individual Leader: What is your commitment to do things differently right now amidst change and uncertainty?
In our first blog and podcast, we addressed leaders paying extra attention to focus on inclusivity, right now, as we navigate working virtually while physically separated. We challenged our readers to absorb the concepts of two great books that discuss organizational and cultural dynamics that hinder inclusiveness, and how Leaders must create an environment where people are comfortable speaking up; “The Loudest Duck – Moving Beyond Diversity While Embracing Differences to Achieve Success at Work” by Laura Liswood, and “The Fearless Organization – Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth” by Amy C. Edmondson. The challenges of inclusion and diversity do not go away just because the working landscape is now virtual. In fact, these challenges become more difficult and more relevant.
Peeling back the onion layer, how do we address these challenges? This led to our second blog, Communicating Virtually in an Inclusive Culture
We have been thrown into being virtual leaders without a lot of pre-planning or upfront training on the different nuances of working virtually. Focusing on BEING a virtually inclusive leader now will manifest your amazing leadership skills in a variety of platforms in the new future. You will not be solely reliant on the traditional senses and the traditional ways of conducting meetings and having conversations. Within the virtual world, you will listen for what you don’t hear, be intuitive, and trust yourself that you can inclusively lead your team and organization to make things happen differently.
At JMJ, we coach and support around several leadership principles and practices. One principle is in the art of BEING. As leaders, we can get caught in the demands and expectations of DOING the tasks that create processes for flow, make productivity happen, meet the demands of our clients/customers, etc. However, the more we learn about the art of great leadership, the more we know that the character, values, and gestures of leaders is what drives individuals and teams. This is why practicing inclusiveness is critical.
The assertion is that leaders are aware of who they are and who they want to be. Leaders look within, embrace ongoing development, and seek to understand themselves. In other words, they work on BEING by identifying practices and taking a stand to make them happen. There are Keystone Practices, those actions that Great Leaders do all the time that show who they are, what they care about and how they show up when interacting with their teams and within their organizational culture, that can help in becoming a virtually inclusive leader. Ask yourself how you are BEING in each of these practices. Do I have knowledge of these practices and how do I apply them?
In our previous blogs as well as the books we mentioned above, every organization and every team will have a dominant culture and managers within that culture, “the elephants”, along with those individuals who are in the non-dominant group, “the mice”. We challenge the elephants and the mice to dig deep within themselves and practice virtual inclusive leadership. Each has responsibilities and accountabilities, so seize this new virtual opportunity for self-improvement.
If you are a leader and/or a manager of a team on a project or within an organization, you are the elephant within your sphere of influence. Challenge yourself and empower your team by purposefully practicing virtual inclusive leadership:
If you are a member on a team, but not necessarily part of the dominant group, you, as a mouse, also have a strong role to play in building an inclusive productive environment:
Take on this Virtual Inclusive Leadership challenge now. Empower and challenge yourself and other leaders. Practice intentional inclusiveness and gain feedback. Now more than ever, we have been afforded an opportunity to focus on inclusivity in a dynamic way to lead individuals and teams in a virtual environment. Not only will this benefit us and our organizations now, but well into the future. Why wait?
JMJ works with clients around the world, unlocking human performance to transform cultures. Contact us today to learn how we can collaborate together to help you transform your leadership approaches to inclusion and diversity, creating an environment where people can adapt, grow and flourish.
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