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Inclusive Leadership Supports Collaboration and Diversity In Teams

Leia em Português


In a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Why inclusive leaders are good for organizations and how to become one”, authors Juliet Bourke and Andrea Espedido describe their new research into the characteristics and benefits of ‘inclusive’ leadership. Findings, including Improved collaboration and improved activation of team diversity, are extremely useful for software teams striving for Agile and DevOps cultures.

Inclusive leadership focuses on multidisciplinary teams that combine peoples’ collective capabilities. Bourke and Espedido found that:

Teams with inclusive leaders are 17% more likely to report that they are high performing, 20% more likely to say they make high-quality decisions, and 29% more likely to report behaving collaboratively. What’s more, we found that a 10% improvement in perceptions of inclusion increases work attendance by almost 1 day a year per employee, reducing the cost of absenteeism.

The authors discovered six traits or behaviors that distinguished inclusive leaders from others:

Visible commitment: They articulate authentic commitment to diversity, challenge the status quo, hold others accountable and make diversity and inclusion a personal priority.

Humility: They are modest about capabilities, admit mistakes, and create the space for others to contribute.

Awareness of bias: They show awareness of personal blind spots as well as flaws in the system and work hard to ensure meritocracy.

Curiosity about others: They demonstrate an open mindset and deep curiosity about others, listen without judgment, and seek with empathy to understand those around them.

Cultural intelligence: They are attentive to others’ cultures and adapt as required.

Effective collaboration: They empower others, pay attention to diversity of thinking and psychological safety, and focus on team cohesion.

The article also includes links to the main research published previously by the authors and some quick advice on what to do. Their four ways to get started are:

  • Know your inclusive-leadership shadow: Seek feedback
  • Be visible and vocal
  • Deliberately seek out difference
  • Check your impact, are people copying your role modeling?

The sample for the study is from three Australian organisations, This single aspect of leadership should be of great help to those organisations striving for more impact from their investment in diversity. 

The article cites additional sources for further investigation that Deloitte have published:

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