When I thought about who I was as a leader and as a person, I honestly believed that I was already an inclusive leader. I thought of myself as open-minded and accepting of everyone. Thinking about it now, I have come to realise that, actually, I do have some bias to work on. To be honest, that was confronting.
Through this experience, I came to realise that I was biased towards my “go-to” people. I relied heavily on these same people for feedback and for input. I even heard myself shutting down people with differing views to me. I started to see this in a negative light, and began to think deeply about it.
I want people around me to know that their perspective is important and what they have to say matters.
To start to counter my own biases, I’m now deliberately curious and open-minded to different perspectives. It takes effort, but I’m consciously bringing a wider cross-section of staff into my working groups and workshops. I am watching who is contributing and participating and creating the space for others to speak up. Rather than relying solely on my go-to people, I am thinking ‘who else can I invite to the conversation?’
In doing so, I’m sending the message that even though I’m the boss, I’m curious to understand and consider different points of view. I want people around me to know that their perspective is important and what they have to say matters. I’m sharing this journey with my Executive team. I want them on board, to believe in what I believe in, so that together we can cast a larger shadow. Collectively we will have a much larger impact.
How to be curious
- Listen closely and make time to understand the experiences of diverse team members.
- Take time to understand how team members prefer to communicate.
- Be aware of people who haven’t spoken in meetings and ensure their views are included in decision-making.
- Remember to be approachable and open to new ideas even when juggling multiple priorities.
- Communicate calmly and respectfully with your team in the face of pressure.