inclusive leader



We are trying to construct a more inclusive society. We are going to make a country in which no one is left out. Franklin D. Roosevelt


My daughter had a tough middle school year last year. She agonized over how she felt left out of circles and discussions and events. I would often coach her to look past it all and realize that many of her classmates were going through similar things.

Her situation felt different. She told me that she felt like her classmates looked past and through her to talk to and include other people. She was really hurt and so was her self-esteem. I supported her and told her to hang on a little while longer, since she would be graduating. One weekend, she was looking at one of her social media pages and noticed that one of those classmates had a birthday party that included mostly everyone from her class, but excluded a few.


She was not invited. This was not a new occurrence. It still hurt.


I get it!


Everyone has the right to invite whomever they want to their parties. Social media changes the impact in many ways, because people can celebrate and exclude others in a more public way.

I can’t help but think about how Inclusion plays out in the workplace.

Are there people inside your organization who feel passed over and looked through? Are there high performing employees who have great things to say, but are not invited to say them?

How inclusive are you?

Do you make sure that unpopular voices have a seat at the table? Are they in the room but not really recognized as an important voice? Do you look through certain people to cater to those who look a certain way or speak a certain way?


Below are three considerations if you are striving to be a more inclusive leader:

1.  Listen and act

Who do you listen to? Do you consider the narrow view of just a few, or make sure that you include people with varied backgrounds? Do you act upon the most common voices, or are you courageous enough to act upon the uncommon feedback?

Inclusive leaders both look for and listen to a diverse set of perspectives and take certain action to show that those perspectives are valued.

If you want to be a more inclusive leader, listen to everyone and commit to taking action on much of what you hear.

2.  Expansive circle

Who is in your inner circle? Leaders who take the time to ensure that their circle is only homogeneous in values and purpose and not based upon the same physical characteristics or background are simply more inclusive.

I have a diverse coaching client who recalled for me a time when her boss held a firm party and excluded her. She found out about it, because others in the office were talking about it and bringing gifts back they received at the party. She felt like an outsider and did not understand why it happened. Her boss never gave her an explanation.

Was this type of behavior normal for this leader?

Inclusive leaders go out of their way to include people who might challenge their thinking and bring innovative ideas to the table.

If you want to be a more inclusive leader, review and expand your inner circle.

3.  Collaborate often

To collaborate means to admit that you alone don’t have the answers. The best solutions spring from the back and forth that takes place at the collaboration table.

If you want to be a more inclusive leader, have the courage to invite many different types of people to the table, because that is when the fun begins!


Someone once told me that inclusion is “Inviting someone to the party and asking them to dance.” Let’s all commit to being the kind of leaders who ask many people to dance!


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If you enjoyed this shorter article and think that you would enjoy my book that features some of these thoughts, download your free chapter Here

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