Inclusive leaders know diversity is about progress over perfection.
As with anything else that is important to your career, inclusive leadership takes time and resources. It is less about getting it 100% right, and the stumble and bumble of being an ally. As an ally, take time to invest time in yourself, assess and reflect on how you could get better understanding your unconscious biases, take the time to really observe your workplace environment for potential signs of exclusion vs. inclusion, and open your personal and professional networks to more diverse groups, stimulating new and sometimes challenging conversations.
Carol Dweck’s growth mindset is an important tool to keep in mind as an ally. The growth mindset operates under these key principles:
- Intelligence is learned not innate
- Success is possible regardless of circumstances
- Challenges are a part of growth
- Important goals are worth the hard work and setbacks
- People are rewarded for hard work
Take a growth mindset assessment. How much do you identify with the growth vs. fixed mindset? There are many tools available online with a simple search. Here is one growth mindset assessment we like. As an indivdual, you can model the growth mindset for others to follow. It important you show people what good looks like. Reflect also on your organization, how much does your organization practice the growth or fixed mindset? How could you help shape the growth mindset for others more?
Once you know more about your self-awareness and appetite for growth, it is important to accept that this allyship is a journey not a destination. There is no one single action you can take to show you are inclusive. It is a series of baby steps that lead to positive change, rarely is it one magic bullet. That means being consistent, intentional, and showing up as an inclusive leader over time is powerful.
Allies take action. If you are looking for ideas on your inclusive leader journey, consider these ideas:
- Start with what you know. You don’t know what you don’t know. Stay curious to learn about others’ lived experiences without judgement. Stay in your lane. Perhaps you have a superpower as an ally, you can speak well, or you have a unique ability, start with your comfort zone, then branch out from there.
- Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Once you get out of your comfort zone, growth is possible. It is impossible to grow and stay the same. By definition, for diversity, we need to do things differently.
- Listen more than you speak. To learn, you have to listen. To speak, you only hear what you already know. That means allies listen to others different than themselves. They grow by absorbing information from others without placing the burden of education squarely on others already maginalized.
The growth mindset is a shift. It is one shift necessary to lead inclusively, but there are many more skills to build along the journey. Inclusive leaders get excited when they face a new problem, rather than becoming overwhelmed. Their best days are spent learning. They enjoy spending time with people different from themselves. There is no one size fits all approach to being an ally. Yet, the growth mindset when practiced well, can help allies build up cultures of allies where we all know we have more to learn and can grow together.
If you liked this article, share it with a friend, check out our Diversity Pivot Podcast for entertaining stories about inclusive leadership, or schedule time with Julie if you are interested in bringing this content to your organization. We also have a brand new virtual self-paced Lead Like an Ally course to check out!