This guest post is brought to you by Karen Ferris – Change Management Rebel. Read Karen’s article here. Also, listen to our Agile Ideas podcast with her here.

The Inclusionary

It sounds like a movie and maybe it should be as more people need to know about it than do now.

The inclusionary is the leader of the hybrid team.

The hybrid team has the flexibility and choice to work where they want, when they want and how they want to achieve the best outcomes for the team and the organisation.

Some may work in the office, some my work remotely and some may do a share of both.

The new DE&I

It is likely you have seen acronym DE&I – diversity, equity, and inclusion. It has been in regular use for over a decade and its use in the workplace centred around the need for leaders to create an environment in which:

  • Representation and participation of diverse group of people including a multiplicity of gender, religion, race, ethnicities, cultures, ages, sexual orientation, and nationality are actively encouraged.
  • There is equity and everyone has access to the same opportunities to grow, contribute and develop.
  • People with different identities feel included – they feel valued, welcomed, and respected.

I love the clarification from cultural change catalyst and author Verna Myers who said:

“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”

These diverse groups are often referred to as identities.

Addressing DE&I in the workplace has been an ongoing challenge for many organisations.

The challenge is now elevated as we add two new identities to the list – those who are in the office and those who are remote.

The inclusionary ensures that there is DE&I for both identities. This will require amplification of existing leadership skills and acquisition of others regarding equity and inclusion.

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The conscious leader

The inclusionary is conscious of their baggage and their biases. They have dumped their baggage which believed that an employee working in the office is more productive. They have dumped the baggage that said if someone was in their line of sight their work was of higher value than those they could not see.

They are aware of their biases including proximity bias. Proximity bias refers to our tendency to give preferential treatment to those in our immediate vicinity.

In the hybrid environment this means giving preferential treatment to those with whom you are co-located – those in the office.

The inclusionary treats everyone inclusively and equally regardless of where they work from.

They work tirelessly to avoid a culture of conflicts between those working in the office and those working remotely. They eradicate the ‘us and them’ mentality.

Everyone must be in sync.

The inclusionary does not allow an out-of-sight, out-of-mind, out-of-touch situation to develop.

The connected leader

The inclusionary checks in with every one of their employees on a regular basis.

They work to create the water-cooler moments by ‘dropping-in’ with an impromptu phone or video call and having similar conversations.

They are constantly looking for innovative ways to increase connection and collaboration and utilise apps such as “Random Coffee” match co-workers from different teams and bring them together for coffee dates. Apps like Donut connect employees serendipitously for a virtual coffee, per learning, DEI discussion etc.

Ensuring that they are not connected with some employees as much as others due to an unconscious bias, they keep a note of the employees they have connected with, when, and for how long. If there is a connection inequity, they determine whether it was founded due to the context at the time, or whether it is a bias to be recognised and removed.

The trusted leader

Trust is the foundation of the hybrid team. The inclusionary provides clear goals and expectations and then gets out of the way. They trust everyone to do the right thing.

The empower their employees and provide them with the autonomy to achieve desired outcomes in how they want, when they want, where they want.

Every employee knows that the leader is there to support them, remove obstacles and address challenges should they arise.

The inclusionary knows their employees’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses and who may need additional support depending on the task they have been given.

There is no empowerment of some and not of others.

The inclusionary is an active listener and really hears what their employees are saying. Everyone know they have a voice that will be heard, and the leader will act as necessary.

This leader is clear about their values and beliefs and their behavior demonstrates them.

When this leader says they will do something – they follow through. If the desired outcome cannot be achieved, they are transparent, explain the constraints and explore alternatives.

They can be trusted and depended upon.

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The exemplar leader

In the hybrid workplace, leaders must lead by example. If the organisation is promoting a working environment in which everyone has a choice to work where they want and when they want, leaders must do the same.

Leaders that revert to a permanent desk in the office send a message that they expect others to work out of the office.

They also make who are working remotely feel excluded and out of touch.

Leaders who work remotely, even for short periods of time, can share their experience, and empathise with the experiences of others.

The courageous leader

The inclusionary is courageous. They are challenge the status quo. They challenge themselves, their employees, and the organisation regarding barriers to equity and inclusion.

They provide feedback on behaviours and openly encourage, receive it, and embrace it.

The inclusionary is both vulnerable and humble. They share their shortcomings, concerns, and worries which encourages others to do the same. They do not shy away from their imperfections, they acknowledge them.

They are prepared to admit when they do not have all the answers therefore being humble and courageous at the same time.

They operate with honesty and transparency so every feels they included and informed.

Summary

Now is the time to uplift leadership capabilities and competencies to lead the hybrid team with equity and inclusion.

Without it there will be exclusions and inequities develop, that if not addressed will become entrenched in organisational culture.