Skip to main content



December 06, 2019

Six Signature Traits of Inclusive Leadership

Categories:  Leadership

What will it take to be a great leader in the future...five, ten even 20 years from now? Diversity of markets, customers, ideas, and talent is driving the need for inclusion as a new leadership capability.

We have taken the liberty of summarizing Deloitte’s research report to provide you with the Six Signature Traits of Inclusive Leadership then we provide a few tips and exercises for your own learning. Leaders who display theses six attributes not only embrace individual differences, but potentially leverage these attributes for competitive advantage. We provided definitions of diversity and leadership in our previous blog along with why we need to care.


“Highly inclusive leaders are committed to diversity and inclusion because these objectives align with their personal values and because they believe in the business case.“ The commitment to staying the course consistently is not the easiest path. However, decidedly inclusive leaders, committed to diversity and inclusion, do so.


“Highly inclusive leaders speak up and challenge the status quo, and they are humble about their strengths and weaknesses.” They are not afraid to show their own humility for limitations or not always having the answers.

Cognizance of bias

“Highly inclusive leaders are mindful of personal and organizational blind spots, and self-regulate to help ensure ‘fair play.’” These leaders act from an awareness of their own biases and acknowledge the need to ensure policies, processes, and structures to prevent organizational biases from others.


“Highly inclusive leaders have an open mindset, a desire to understand how others view and experience the world, and a tolerance for ambiguity.” They commit to keeping their minds open about new ideas, perspectives and how others see the world. They continually seek learning, listen, inquire and have empathy.

Culturally intelligent

“Highly inclusive leaders are confident and effective in cross-cultural interactions.” They have knowledge of other cultures and how their own cultures impact others. They are deliberate in adapting to and learning from other cultures.


“Highly inclusive leaders empower individuals as well as create and leverage the thinking of diverse groups.” Inclusive leaders know that in order for collaboration to be successful, teams must be willing to voice their different opinions and perspectives. They are mindful and watch for group-think and subgroups to ensure a sense of “we” and “one team”.

How many of these attributes do you possess? What needs more focus? What one or two could you model and mentor others on?


Exercises: Our invitation to you based upon our experience with team alignment and executive coaching clients is to try a few exercises:

  1. Be wildly curious! Take a day or more and look through your day like a toddler. Toddlers are endlessly curious. They ask: What is that? Why? But why? But why? They have no judgment or bias. They are open and want to understand their world. They don’t see differences; they see it ALL!
  2. Be an assumption buster! How are you or team members demonstrating biases unconsciously or not? Are you or they making assumptions about others without question? Are you being curious? There is learning here. Ask: What assumptions am I or others holding that are preventing us from honoring diversity and being inclusive?
  3. Invite failure! If we are not failing, we are NOT learning; we are playing it 'safe'. Then open the space to safe dialogue and learning so you and others can become more self-aware.
  4. Embrace uniqueness in diverse teams! Seek out uniqueness in yourself and others. You may find some superpower strength in yourself or your team that will enhance goals.

Let us know what you learned from the exercises.

Lead on!
Lori and James

James Jackman & Lori Heffelfinger
310-543-7632 office |

INVITATION to JOIN US in the Movement to create the next generation of leaders!

Partner with EmpowHer Institute to ignite the transformation of LA’s Teen Girls by becoming a sponsor for the upcoming:

Back to All Posts

How to Make Cool Leaders Great and Great Organizations Better.

Download our free guide

61d727e911249 (1)