Leading Inclusively in Complexity

August 13, 2020

EN Sparks Conversation: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Virtual Series 

Leading Inclusively in Complexity

The following member companies joined us for our EN Sparks Conversation: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion centered around Leading Inclusively in Complexity led by our thought leaders, Akasha and Carolyn Coughlin: BP, Cargill, Colfax, Dow, ENI, Mars, Microsoft, Neste Oil, and UPS.

Akasha and Carolyn discussed the complexity of sustainable DEI practices and the mindtraps we face when approaching them, paying attention to one in particular: identity. They emphasized the importance of scanning the present by encouraging members to think about how well suited they are for leading DEI efforts at their organization, an important exercise which enables leaders to reflect on what attributes are key to affect systemic change. Furthermore, Akasha and Carolyn explained the Intercultural Development Continuum (IDC) to help our members explore the question: What is inclusive leadership?

Leading Inclusively

Effective inclusive leadership requires a re-evaluation of traditional, top-down hierarchy which is usually thought of as standard in the workplace.  It begs the question:  how much and in what ways do organizations and their employees fully connect with, utilize, and benefit from people across all types of differences?  The nature of inclusive leadership calls for more centralized and shared leadership to emphasize co-creation and mutual learning across culture lines.

Intercultural competence, the capacity to bridge the complexities of individual groups, is essential for leading inclusively.  Understanding how different people interact, experience, and engage with their surroundings allows for the inclusive leader to create a safe and brave environment in which all its members feel a sense of inclusion and belonging.

Some key behaviors of leading inclusively are:

  • Sharing personal weaknesses
  • Learning about cultural differences – your own and others
  • Acknowledging team members as individuals
  • Asking for feedback on being inclusive

Cultural Mindtraps

To introduce the concept of a mindtrap, Carolyn began the conversation by asking our members: What are some of the ways we as humans make us not wired to handle complexity; what can we do about it? 

Three of the five mindtraps that Caroline shared include: rightness, control, and identity. While all of these contribute to complexity, identity (or ego) is the most common mindtrap that people fall into and is often referred to as the “master mindtrap.” Carolyn asked our members to share words that they would and would not like to be described as.  The positive words centered around themes of inclusion, trustworthiness, and awareness; the negative words shared themes of stubbornness, self-centeredness, and inconsideration.

The purpose of this exercise was to accentuate the fact that inclusion is not about wrong versus right, but rather about bringing awareness to how we show up.

Thank You

The recording with embedded slides is available to Executive Networks members.

If your team is dealing with similar issues or have questions you’d like answered please fill out the form below!

Leading Inclusively in Complexity

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