Leadership Coaching Strategies that Promote Diversity and Inclusion

January 31, 2022 | kelsey

One thing I am certain of is that organisations cannot accomplish diversity and inclusion without investing in inclusive leadership coaching. A first step is for organisations to make establishing inclusive leaders a strategic priority.  

While it is admirable to adopt training solutions for employees at all levels in the hopes of developing a more inclusive workplace; from my many years of experience working in the diversity and inclusion arena, I know that these types of programs do not always provide long-term effects. 

When it comes to diversity and inclusion, there are better approaches to generate tangible results.  

And they are through strategic leadership coaching. 

Believe me when I say that developing committed leaders through coaching is not an impossible goal! 

The reality is that a lack of diversity and inclusion in the workplace is often a consequence of a more pressing leadership problem. One that inclusive leadership coaching can easily remedy. 

What is inclusive leadership coaching and why is it important? 

Inclusive leadership coaching entails the most critical aspects required for any leader to be successful in the diversity and inclusion sector.  

It is an essential component of any leader’s learning and development process. It equips leaders with the insights, tools, and expertise they need to solve D&I problems, generate innovative ideas from different perspectives, and to build inclusive teams.  

Coaching differs from other types of training in that you learn by doing. It is an extremely powerful and effective method that allows those in positions of leadership to arrive at their own solutions rather than being told what steps to take. 

The coaching approach to inclusive leadership is effective. According to research by Deloitte, inclusive leaders have the potential to improve overall employee performance. This is significant and a game changer for many organisations.  

A leadership coaching framework is distinctive in that it approaches the conversation about diversity and inclusion in a unique way than with more traditional training programs. 

The “how” of leadership coaching

Leadership coaching is both empowering and centred on the leader.  

When it comes to identifying their own answers to common DEI and other workplace difficulties, leaders develop their own individual goals and learn to build capability instead of reliance.  

Those at the top of an organisation who receive inclusive leadership coaching frequently report a shift in their mindset. They learn how to create strategies that help underrepresented employees. They learn through doing hands-on experiments in real-life circumstances, all of which is both educational and psychologically rewarding. 

What are the leadership coaching challenges faced by organisations? 

There are many challenges that leaders face whilst completing their training, some of which are easier to overcome than others.  

Let us dive into a few leaderships challenge examples. 

Bias blind spots 

Bias for leaders who are untouched by prejudice can be a difficult learning curve during leadership coaching. It can be a challenge for leaders to uncover unconscious and concealed bias in the workplace. Identifying with employees from backgrounds other than their own is difficult.  

This is when awareness comes in. Understanding personal privilege, which is often invisible to many leaders, is critical to effective leadership coaching.  

An effective strategy for removing blind spots is through sharing stories.

When leaders listen to real-life stories from their team members who have faced bias or discrimination, they empathise and are engaged on an emotional level rather than on an intellectual one.  This is often where leaders begin to feel a shift and report those true a-ha moments.  

Lack of comprehension  

Have you noticed that leaders often fit a specific criterion?

They tend to be unsure of how exactly to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace because they cannot relate.  

Leadership coaching overcomes this lack of understanding through open dialogue and experiments in real life scenarios. 

It is through learning and educating, the transfer of knowledge and skills, that inclusive leadership becomes possible.  

The inference being that there must be a willingness to do the work. To change the micro habits and to challenge the knowledge bank. 

Inadequate accountability 

The unconscious and automatic biases of those in leadership positions that perpetuate workplace inequity require more than well-intentioned policies and programs.

To move the leadership paradigm from the typical “employee-fit” to greater diversity and inclusion requires leaders to take accountability.  

Leadership coaching overcomes this habit. Leaders become more aware and comfortable with holding themselves and others accountable.  

Leadership best practices for diversity and inclusion 

I will say this: when your approach to diversity and inclusion is successful you will see it on the faces of your team members around you. Leadership best practice often looks like an environment where employees feel a sense of belonging.  

When leaders establish a sense of belonging, it changes the status quo.  

When diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of a leader’s thoughts, everyone in the organisation has fair and equal opportunity. 

Inclusive leadership success story 

My leadership coaching is pragmatic. As seen in the below video, leaders who engage in my Inclusive Habits for Leaders program learn through hands-on real-life experiments with employees. 

Diversity and inclusion are essential components of every successful organisation. And although there are numerous aspects that need to work in tandem to implement an impactful D&I strategy, the key to its success is inclusive leadership.  

It is critical for leaders to not only build and master their inclusive abilities through leadership coaching, but also to put them into practise.  

The key message is that inclusive leaders interact with the heterogeneity around them, they create interpersonal trust, consider the perspectives of others, and are adaptive.  

All which lead to business growth and employee retention. 

Are you ready to take your leadership skills to the next level?  

My diversity and inclusion program, Inclusion Habits for Leaders, is an award winner.  

My approach employs two tools that are specifically developed to help organisations establish Inclusive Leadership CHAMPIONS.  

The curriculum develops diversity and inclusion champions who know what to do. My program educates at a critical mass to foster an inclusive culture with proven results. 

The first step is for you to discover whether my diversity and inclusion solutions are right for you by completing this 2-minute questionnaire. 

Complete the questionnaire here

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