Inclusive Leadership Research Paper

Length: 6 pages Sources: 6 Subject: Leadership Type: Research Paper Paper: #19085224 Related Topics: Global Leadership, Educational Leadership, Singapore, Effective Leadership
Excerpt from Research Paper :

Role of Inclusive Leadership in Strengthening the Organizational Culture among a Diverse Global Group of Employees

Today, organizations are comprised of an increasingly diverse group of employees from different cultures. Leading a diverse group of employees can be a daunting enterprise, particularly if these cross-cultural differences are not taken into account. To gain to new insights into these issues, this paper provides an overview of the traits of inclusive leadership, an analysis of the key leadership skills required to create an inclusive organizational culture and a review of the leadership characteristics that will be most influential in creating the organizational culture of this group. Finally, a discussion concerning how inclusive leadership can be applied to this group in order to meet the challenges and opportunities inherent in a global environment is followed by a summary of the research and important findings concerning inclusive leadership in an increasingly globalized marketplace are presented in the conclusion.

Overview of Inclusive Leadership Traits

Despite the growing need for informed and effective global leadership, the research indicates that a number of organizations continue to apply a "one-size-fits-all" leadership approach to their operations. For instance, Popescu (2013) emphasizes that, "Many organizations fail to integrate the concept of global leadership into their talent management practices, operating with a universal leadership framework" (p. 171). These tendencies are highlighted in the graphic featured in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Cartoon Highlighting the Importance of Inclusive Leadership Practices


Therefore, in order to be effective, global leaders must develop inclusive leadership traits that transcend the demands of leaders of organizations with a more homogeneous employee base. In this regard, Popescu (2013) adds that, "Successful global leaders must cultivate a wider variety of competencies, skills and abilities than their domestic counterparts" (p. 172). A study by Kirby and Brown (1995) identified the following as important inclusive leadership traits: (1) seeking input; (2) encouraging others to be involved in decision-making; (3) sharing power and credit; (4) empowering others to improve skills; and (5) maintaining open communication. Conversely, Carmeli, Reiter-Palmon and Ziv (2010), report that inclusive leadership is characterized by (1) openness, (2) accessibility, and (3) the availability of a leader. Although the foregoing traits may be characteristic of other leadership styles from time to time, inclusive leaders routinely manifest these traits to motivate their followers to improved levels of performance (Carmeli et al., 2010). These are important issues because diverse groups of employees are far more difficult to lead (Grange, 2014).

Analysis of the Key Leadership Skills Required to Create an Inclusive Organizational Culture

Although the key leadership skills that are required to create an inclusive organizational culture vary from organization to organization depending on the industry and employee base composition, there are some skills that emerge time and again as being important in global organizations. For instance, a recent survey conducted by the Diversity and Inclusion Council requested leaders to describe what key leadership skills are required to create an inclusive organizational culture with the following empirical observations being reported from practitioners in the field:

They are walking the (diversity) talk and modeling inclusive behavior;

They are taking part in both formal and informal processes that support the development of an inclusive organization;

They understand community expectations and hold their staff accountable for meeting those needs;

They are willing to reconsider how resources are allocated to serve a group or sector that has been under-served;

They are purposeful and intentional about using a "diversity lens" in specific processes such as recruitment and promotion;

They support diversity and inclusion by developing members of their team on merit and being more transparent about assignments and promotions;

They are working to create environments that are respectful;

They encourage existing practices to be challenged;

They aim for integrity between the organization's diversity policies and its practices; and,

They lead by influence, not authority (Grange, 2014, para. 1).

In addition, the survey identified four factors that inclusive leaders...


group as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration -- that has worked well enough to be considered valid, and therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems. (p. 37)

Again, although all organizations are unique in some fashion and the leadership characteristics that are most influential in creating organizational change will vary, the research to date indicates that those characteristics that are generally most influential include leadership engagement that extends to soliciting employee input on relevant issues and feedback concerning leadership effectiveness (Epstein & Buhovac, 2010). In addition, promoting from within the organization helps to build a strong organizational culture (Epstein & Buhovac, 2010). Inculcating organizational culture in new hires may require the use of the foregoing as well as other methods to ensure that all employees understand the corporate values and priorities that are in place, but absent the foregoing leadership characteristics, organizations may be hard-pressed to achieve these outcomes. For instance, according to Epstein and Buhovac, "If they don't use these methods, companies must find other ways to sensitize new employees to the culture. This is often challenging" (2010, p. 43).

How Inclusive Leadership can be Applied to this Group to Meet the Challenges and Opportunities in a Global Environment

As the term connotes, inclusive leadership means leadership practices that include all followers rather than a select few. Therefore, applying inclusive leadership practices requires a comprehensive understanding of the cross-cultural differences that define a group of employees that includes individuals from Iran, Greece, Singapore and Germany. As Grange (2014) points out, "Not everyone is the same, and cultural differences need must be understood and navigated if the benefits of this mixture of diversity will be gained" (para. 2). One of the best ways to apply inclusive leadership practices to this type of diverse group of employees is to learn what is important to them and why. For this purpose, Waclawski and Church (2002) recommend the use of the appreciate inquiry process by global leaders to improve their ability to lead a diverse group of employees.

The appreciate inquiry process is comprised of the following five overarching principles: (1) constructionist, (2) simultaneity, (3) poetic, (4) anticipatory, and (5) positive (Waclawski & Church, 2002). These principles are applied during the following five phases:

Phase 1: Define. The most powerful tools at leaders' disposal are their capacity to inquire together and focus the nature of the inquiry. Discovery of people's experiences of their group, organization, or community at its most vital and alive and what made those experiences possible. To ensure broad-based support and whole system impact, include representatives of all stakeholder groups in defining the topics for inquiry.

Phase 2: Discovery. This phase typically begins with paired appreciative interviews exploring participants' peak experiences of each topic and what made those experiences possible. The interview questions and process are designed to elicit and revitalize the positive affect associated with participants' stories, which nurtures intrinsic motivation.

Phase 3: Dream. During this phase, the best of the past is amplified into collectively envisioned and desired futures. Working together in groups, participants review the images, metaphors, hopes, and dreams that were generated in the discovery phase.

Phase 4: Design. During the design phase, participants identify key facets of organizational systems and structures that will be needed to support the realization of their collectively generated dreams.

Phase 5: Deliver. Actions are implemented over time in an iterative, appreciative learning journey (Waclawski & Church, 2002, pp. 209-211).

The appreciate inquiry approach has been used to good effect in both the public and private sectors in a wide variety of settings to help global leaders more effectively lead diverse groups of employees in meeting the challenges and opportunities inherent in a global environment (Waclawski & Church, 2002).


Global leaders today are confronted with some significant challenges, including overcoming potentially disruptive cross-cultural differences that can adversely affect organizational performance and productivity. Some of the traits of inclusive leadership were shown to include actively soliciting feedback from employees, encouraging employees to be involved in decision-making; sharing power and credit; empowering others to improve skills; and maintaining open lines of communication. In addition, other traits of inclusive leadership included openness and accessibility. The key leadership skills that are required to create an inclusive organizational culture also included soliciting employee feedback but also extended to promoting from within. Finally, the research also showed that an appreciate inquiry approach can be used by global leaders to learn about what makes followers from different cultures…

Sources Used in Documents:


Carmeli, A., Reiter-Palmon, R. & Ziv, E. (2010). Inclusive leadership and employee involvement in creative tasks in the workplace: The mediating role of psychological safety. Creativity Research Journal, 22(3), 250-260.

Epstein, M.J. & Buhovac, A.R. (2010, April). Implementing sustainability: The role of leadership and organizational culture. Strategic Finance, 91(10), 41-44.

Grange, H. (2014). Observations on diversity and inclusion. DiversiPro Inc. Retrieved from

Kirby, B.J. & Brown, G. (1995, April). Constructing a feminist-inclusive theory of leadership.

Cite this Document:

"Inclusive Leadership" (2015, March 22) Retrieved January 20, 2022, from

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"Inclusive Leadership", 22 March 2015, Accessed.20 January. 2022,

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