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Lead from the Center: Practicing Inclusive Leadership

Inclusion is defined as “a sense of belonging, connection, and community at work.”  Inclusive organizations help people feel welcomed, known, valued and encouraged to bring their whole, unique selves to work. 

“The special thing women leaders bring to the team is that they exercise relational leadership practices, stimulating high-quality relationships, bonding, and connectivity among members. This can be a strong advantage when teams are challenged by size, geographic dispersion and functional diversity,” says Corinne Post, associate professor, management at Lehigh University. Post studied members of 82 teams in 29 innovative organizations to learn how a leader’s gender relates to team cohesion, cooperative learning, and participative communication. When it comes to cultivating inclusive cultures in the workplace, women play a vital role.

Inspired by a study published in Harvard Business Review, a team of women in the Federal Contracting Group reflected on practicing inclusive leadership. Below are three key traits we believe anyone can focus on to grow as an inclusive leader:

1. Curiosity

Inclusive leaders are genuinely curious and seek to understand those around them. They expand outside their network circle, focus on growth, and create new possibilities for others on an individual level.

“Curiosity is fundamental to any relationship, not just in leadership. It creates a genuine level of appreciation and understanding for each other. This allows us to collaborate effectively, build bonds and open endless possibilities.  Being a good leader starts with understanding rather than commanding to create a longstanding relationship.”

Reneé Whiteley, Field Engineer

2. Humility

Inclusive leaders are modest about their capabilities and are not afraid to admit mistakes or share vulnerabilities. They understand how sharing vulnerabilities creates bonding and puts others at ease to voice their own opinions.

“The best leaders I have worked with are actively committed to humility. They are constantly looking for, listening to, and learning from someone new. This is applicable at work, at home, and outside of one’s social circle. They always value the opportunities presented to learn something new.”

Molly Berdan, Field Engineer

3. Collaboration

Inclusive leaders empower others by finding common ground and integrating perspectives to create team cohesion. They find similarities among others and transform differences to communal strengths.

“Collaboration within an exceptional team helps to create a sense of purpose and belonging. When a common goal is shared among team members, so much more is possible!”

Chandler Pierson, Project Administrative Assistant