Indeed, Mercer’s Thriving in an Age of Disruption research finds inclusive leaders make or break an organisation’s ability to create a thriving workplace. For us, being inclusive is about being curious, non-judging and open to new ideas, being present and connected with people, holding themselves and others accountable for performance and behaviours, and empowering others to thrive. Acting in alignment with personal values and inspiring a vision for the team are also essential behaviours. All of this cultivates a culture of trust that is so important to unleashing organisations where women and men thrive.
Building great, inclusive leaders is about far more than perfecting skills and techniques – it’s about developing who you are. Being inclusive requires us to override our biological predisposition to run on autopilot and as a result subtly exclude or overlook people who are different, cling to the status quo, avoid conflict and preserve our own self-interest. All of which is amplified by stress. The reality is the cohort in our workplaces most negatively impacted by this predisposition is women.
The technical skills developed on the way to leadership will not be enough to transform good managers into great leaders. To get there, we need to understand how our thoughts and emotions influence our behaviour (for better and for worse), and then adapt our mindsets to alter our behaviours.
Neuroscience now shows the ancient tradition of mindfulness improves our cognitive function and helps us shift our mindset to manage our behaviours. While mindfulness in the workplace has been most commonly used to improve concentration, focus, and resilience, we’re seeing great results in integrating mindfulness as a tool to facilitate deep self-reflection and change the structure of our brain, and through this enable and build inclusive leadership behaviours from the inside out.
Our view is that inclusion is a hallmark of exemplary leadership – not an addition to it. Our biology of exclusion underpins the adaptive nature of the inclusive leadership challenge and the potential for mindfulness to unlock leadership potential and support everyone’s efforts to #PressForProgress.
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Yolanda Beattieis a Principal in the Career Business and Practice Leader – Learning and Inclusion for the Pacific Market, based in Sydney.
In this role, Yolanda helps organisations create workplaces where their people thrive through high impact learning programs and inclusion solutions. By co-creating with clients, Mercer's subject matter experts, and strategic partners, we design and deliver transformational leadership and learning programs aimed at developing the mindsets, skills and behaviours required to succeed in the future, as well as inclusion solutions that tackle the barriers that stop underrepresented talent from reaching their potential.
Yolanda joined Mercer in February 2016 after spending three years with the Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency. In this role, she was responsible for increasing the WGEA’s reach and influence through public campaigns, strategic partnerships, stakeholder engagement and innovative education programs. Her earlier career included several corporate affairs roles.
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