Leadership Tips for 2020

Call us cliché, but the New Year truly does provide an opportunity for reflection. It gives us a moment to take inventory of our successes and failures and adjust our goals accordingly. For many, this past year was full of challenges and successes alike which provide opportunities for actionable ways to grow and improve. In this case, our 10 leadership tips will attempt to do just that.

Inclusive teams are ones that have a culture that can attract talent, develop future leaders, and empower teams to innovate at their highest potential. Ultimately, inclusive managers and leaders are the catalysts for the culture change we are all working towards in our organizations. But without leadership tips, nothing is actionable.

Here are 10 leadership tips that many can attempt to try in my leadership practice. We encourage all leaders to read and apply. These tips are inspired by my work with various clients, but also from my personal experience as the leader of my own company. We hope it provides you with some actionable inspiration! 

Ask team members how you can make their lives better. 

It is so important to remember that there is a human side to our workplace relationships. This human side is highly impactful in complimenting or conflicting with professional success. If you are happy at your job you are 150% more likely to be happy in your personal life as well. Inclusive leaders are responsible for taking the initiative to positively contributing to team members’ personal and professional happiness.  

Ask team members what obstacles are getting between them and success and endeavor to remove those obstacles when possible. 

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As a leader, your success is dictated by the success of others. Inclusive leaders are effective in knowing how various nuanced challenges can affect the success of different team members. How do you find out about these obstacles if they’re not obvious? Just ask. By asking individuals to express their concerns, leaders are empowering them to be vulnerable about their professional needs when they might have otherwise reached out. It becomes a win-win all the way around. 

Find out what team members care about. 

Actively seeking to get to know your team members, their interests and priorities, goes a long way in building an inclusive culture and trusting relationships. This effort also shows team members that their leader is invested in getting to know them as a person and in turn, is invested in their well-being not just their professional performance.  

Forge an alliance with team members to be part of their success. 

As Garry Ridge, CEO of WD-40 has said, each member of the team starts with an “A” and it is our responsibility as managers and leaders to help them keep that “A.” Being personally invested in the success of every team member means that you are aligning with them to reach their goals. Let them know that ahead of time. “You’re starting with an “A”; I’m here to help you keep that ‘A’.”

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Figure out what makes each team member special and utilize that uniqueness in team goals or projects. 

Simple attentiveness and observation provide the opportunity to identify a strength or skill set of every individual on a team. Making that observation and leveraging that knowledge can be key to the success of team initiatives. It will also help you to more effectively assign stretch assignments and give career advancement advice. The more leaders can incorporate this, the more they empower their workforce to engage and innovate at the highest level.   

Find out how to help each team member advance. 

With a comprehensive knowledge of all individuals and their unique skills, a leader becomes better equipped to mentor and guide team members to long-term career success. Getting to know the career aspirations of team members helps build relationships of trust as it demonstrates your investment in them and your ethos in building long-term relationships. 

Find an opportunity to give each team member visibility. 

High-visibility initiatives are invaluable opportunities for team members to show initiative and demonstrate under-utilized skills.  It is vital for managers and leaders to consider all team members objectively and not rely only on those who have already “proven” themselves so that a variety of individuals can shine. 

Look out for the quieter voices and give them a voice. 

Everyone has skills and perspectives to contribute, however, some people just aren’t as comfortable or confident to share their gifts in a group setting. It is the role of an inclusive leader to bring out the genius of even the quietest voices in the room. Leaders should look for new ways to engage team members. It can be as simple as asking for more input during a meeting or finding an opportunity to set up a one-on-one conversation with a team member. These actions help ensure all voices to be heard, contributing to the overall success of the workplace.  

Outline rules for an inclusive meeting and read them out at the beginning of each meeting to reinforce them. 

Meetings are one of the most vital opportunities for a leader to foster an inclusive team culture. Unproductive meetings waste more than $37 billion per year. They provide an opportunity to demonstrate and reinforce the inclusive behavior that bolsters productivity. Laying some simple ground rules for meetings, like “no interrupting” or “all opinions welcome,” can go a long way to ensuring that a meeting is productive and allows everyone to feel comfortable and engaged.  

Always seek to expand mentor and sponsor relationships.  

Mentorship and sponsorship are influential to career success, specifically concerning the ability to obtain promotions and raises. 25% of employees with a professional mentor saw a salary grade change compared to only 5% of employees without one. However, according to one study, 54% of employees claim they don’t currently have a mentor. As a leader, expanding and optimizing your mentoring efforts, to include women and people of color, can be very impactful in creating an inclusive culture. Take your effort to an even higher level by sponsoring diverse team members who may not have an advocate or a clear succession plan to lead. 

Inclusive Leadership Development Plan

In conclusion 

Inclusive leadership is a mindset that influences a set of behaviors. When applied consistently and strategically, inclusive leadership can have an unmatched impact on transforming culture and building better workplaces for all. There are tools out there that can help organizations take inventory of their efforts to empower their leaders to inspire culture change. Changing our workplace cultures one interaction at a time is how we advance inclusion, equity, and innovation in our workplaces of the future. Hopefully, some of you found these leadership tips helpful and actionable.  

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