Five Ways Leaders Can Work Faster, Better, and More Inclusively

The world of work is changing and so are leaders. In addition to being highly skilled, they must also be highly skilled at listening to diverse team members and connecting their diverse ideas to come up with innovative product and customer solutions. Grace Lordan describes five ways for leaders to become more effective.

The evidence for the future of work is clear: leaders need inclusive leadership skills as well as brainpower if they are to give their employer a competitive advantage. Why? Companies need leaders who are not only highly skilled, but also highly skilled to actively listen to diverse team members and connect their diverse ideas to come up with innovative solutions for products and customers. But how can we lead inclusively for our organizations without making discussions too long, deliberations tedious, and decision-making filled with divisiveness? Here are 5 ways leaders can work faster, better, and more inclusively with their teams:

1. Evoke a 5:95 rule

A maximum of 5% of what we do day-to-day requires us to include our team members in the conversation. We waste too much time deliberating over small things. Inclusive leaders need to prioritize the 5% of things that are high stakes for the business in order to leverage their team’s insights to give them an edge. High-stakes decisions are costly and sometimes even irreversible. They include product development and hiring a new colleague. For the remaining 95% of day-to-day operations, inclusive leaders need to put systems in place to be transparent about how decisions are made and who the decision maker is. Invoking a 5:95 rule allows an inclusive leader to leverage the diversity of talents on their team for the important things, in addition to empowering their colleagues to make decisions on the rest. Transparency around low-stakes decisions builds trust. The 5:95 rule approach also saves valuable time!

2. Organize your meetings properly

How do you know you are meeting with an inclusive leader? For inclusive leaders, inclusion happens when all voices are heard in equal measure and all team members actively listen to each other. One or two co-workers don’t dominate the conversation, no co-workers get disconnected, and meetings are never seen as a waste of time.

How can a leader push his team meetings into this status quo?

In a meeting, the leader should not give his point of view at the beginning of a discussion where he wishes to generate diverse opinions. In fact, they should primarily be active listeners, in addition to paying attention to the dynamics of the room to ensure that each of their team members is fully engaged. Leaders should encourage new ideas from group members. They can actively do this by stating at the start of the meeting that they want their team members to “tell me something that I don’t know.” In behavioral science, this is called priming. Priming is a phenomenon by which exposure to a stimulus influences the response to a subsequent stimulus. The simple act of saying “tell me something I don’t know” at the start of the meeting encourages team members to communicate unique information and save time by avoiding a meeting focused on too few ideas innovative. If there are no unique ideas to share or deliberate, the leader can close the meeting early and give some time back.

3. More than happy

Leaders should always aim for more than facilitating the formation of happy teams, because what makes people happy isn’t always good for the business. A team can be happy because they spend all day focused on unproductive work and attend too many social gatherings. But a team can also be happy because it embraces dissent, deliberates, or discusses ideas in a way that is comfortable and leads to better business results. This is the sweet spot that the best leaders aim for. An inclusive leader should aim to create a psychologically safe environment for individual team members so as not to harm their well-being. The best advice for improving psychological safety is to ensure that:

  • all team members in their tenure have equal access to opportunity and visibility
  • all team members have their say in meetings
  • there are fair and transparent processes around key moments in the career trajectory, such as promotions and salary increases
  • adequate investment is made to hone the skills of each team member so that they are ready for the future.

If a leader gets 1) through 4) correctly, psychological safety within the team will mechanically increase, in addition to the team receiving a clear signal that productivity is noticed and rewarded.

4. Why so serious?

There’s pretty compelling literature to suggest that we’re born smiling and laughing, and the amount we make plummets when we enter the workforce. Yes, we get very serious when we get a job. And we don’t see a substantial increase in laughter, humor and smiles until we retire. Paradoxically, a light heart and working with humor have been shown to improve productivity, in addition to improving team cooperation. Humor binds people together. Businesses have some serious challenges right now – a post-COVID recovery, a fourth industrial revolution, the Great Resignation, it will help your team members if you take the time to be lighthearted from time to time. weather. and lightness are powerful ways to boost employee engagement and get teams to work better together. You don’t have to turn into a stand-up comedian. Instead, simply sharing moments of levity and being generous with laughter can trigger positive emotions and cooperation. This in turn helps create an inclusive team environment conducive to higher levels of productivity.

5. Invest in team resilience

It’s clear that building team resilience pays off in times of stress, such as the global financial crisis and the COVID 19 pandemic, as well as at key times for specific companies, including the creative destruction of key products. , mergers and massive layoffs. Dealing with such stressors is increasingly common for organizations around the world. More and more often, leaders are tested on their ability to bounce back from dramatic change, and the best investment they can make to pass that test is team resilience.

Team resilience is not equal to the sum of the resilience of the individual people in the team. A team of highly resilient people may have extremely low team resilience, but their resilient individual nature causes them to pursue their own interests at the expense of those of their team. Team resilience develops through collaboration of the four Cs, communication, coordination and cooperation over time.

We’ve come full circle: investing in increased autonomy, running better meetings, improving psychological safety, and bringing levity to your team are all direct mechanisms for building team resilience. Why? This improves collaboration, communication and cooperation!



Maria D. Ervin