Leadership is not just from the top down, anyone in the organization can be a leader and contribute to the inclusiveness of an organization.
It takes courage
True leadership isn’t defined by our title, but our actions and how we contribute to the community of our workplace. It is defined by holding our values at the forefront and being strong enough to recognize when the community we are in needs to strengthen its intentions.
We think of courage as facing adversity head on without fear, but fear can be an underlying current when deciding whether or not to step up. Contemplate past your fears and find the deeper meaning of why taking the risk to build an inclusive space is important. Trust in the potential to create positive change in your workplace. Support the risk-taking required by courageous leadership to navigate your actions.
Courage isn’t something taught, it is something each person needs to practice. With practice you set yourself apart as a true leader in the workplace.
Call in, don’t call out
When taking the risk to be a leader at any level in the workplace it takes delicate finesse. You don’t want to seem driven by power, but encouraged by the positive change you want to see. When we call others and/or our work environment out for missteps in inclusivity we can create a distance in the conversation. Leadership is driven by the connections we make with others so it is crucial we don’t elevate ourselves from an opportunity to bring relationships in the workplace closer. Rather than pushing others away from the cause, we want to be calling our coworkers, bosses and work community into the efforts of change we know the workplace needs.
Leadership in inclusivity can be practiced both in one-on-one scenarios or in group settings when calling others “in” to rise above oppressive behaviors.
- Explain why you are advocating or stepping up.
- Speak from your own personal experience.
- Distinguish between positive intentions as opposed to the problematic scenario you are calling attention to.
- Trust in others to reflect and bare responsibility for contributing to change.
Leadership doesn’t have to be solo
Leadership can be just as important when it is brought to the team to collaborate on finding a solution. Leadership doesn’t mean you have to manage the whole scenario, sometimes getting the conversation started can contribute to the change needed. Let others contribute to the solution and develop the action your workplace needs to see. Know when to call on the support.
Advocating on behalf of others means including their voice, their narrative and stepping aside to give them the space you are advocating for.
Showing up pays off
By showing this attention to greater equity and inclusion you will showcase your own personal leadership qualities, potentially making you look better to upper management for future promotions. Also, you can potentially improve your resume for future roles by including details about the work you’ve done to help your workplace become more inclusive.
When you participate in growing equity and inclusion in the workplace you are showcasing your own leadership qualities. This not only has the potential to impress, it will also build trust with your coworkers and in turn create more opportunity for positive workplace. When others feel seen and heard, when inclusion has been advocated for, there is a sense of belonging that will attribute to a more productive work environment.