Leadership Insight #12 / 2022: Acting inclusively in moments that matter
7 July 2022
Our article in the winter VICDOC edition on being an inclusive leader looked at ways leaders can create a workplace that people can feel seen, included and valued for who they are and what they bring to the joint task. Since writing that I came across two further articles that provide helpful and concrete insights in how leaders can do this. These add to this area of leadership in two ways. First, the Center for Creative Leadership suggests ‘7 Acts of Inclusion’ which are things that an individual can do or say that create inclusion and an inclusive environment, whether you hold a formal leadership role or not. The second article looks at the contexts or situations in which we could do these actions – the ‘Moments that matter’.
The seven acts of inclusion are:
- Deepen self-awareness
- Foster social awareness
- Reveal blind spots
- Listen to understand
- Create connections
- Lead with courageous vulnerability
- Invest resources 
These are things we can all do. Some are more abstract and reflective. For example, increasing self-awareness, social awareness and revealing blind spots are types of personal work that require skills in observation and reflection of self and interpersonal environment. Revealing blind spots is more complex – how can we know and understand what we don’t know and perhaps don’t experience at work. What does it look like to not be seen or listened to at work? Is that your experience or of those around you? Perhaps you need to talk about this and ensure you are connected to and listen to a diverse range of people at your work.
Listening to understand and creating connections are more familiar types of interpersonal work. But are we intentionally listening to everyone’s contributions? Are we forming strong professional relationships with everyone in our team, and is this accessing the range of perspectives?
Courageous vulnerability takes some unpacking. This refers to the ability to put yourself in a position where perhaps you do not feel 100% uncomfortable or knowledgeable and make a suggestion or request from there. It can include speaking up for someone or something that is not being seen. It can include saying things and doing things that shine a light on behaviours that are not inclusive and not equitable. This is courageous.
The second point is to think more specifically about the context in which these individuals actions are taken. There are times and places when the stakes are particularly high, and when being included or excluded – and the impact this has on making a valuable contribution – make a significance difference to what comes next. difference. It reminds me of discussions about the importance of sponsors and allies when we think about our professional network: It’s the difference between people who value you and your work, and those who also speak about you, talk about you, recommend you and connect you directly to people and opportunities – those who speak out on your behalf can really make an impact.
So, think about the acts above, and then think about doing these in moments that matter, such as:
- Interviewing candidates
- Onboarding new employees
- Providing feedback to a colleague
- Conducting team meetings
- Evaluating employees
- Talking to a colleague after a significant life event 
These moments are times when opportunities are ripe and stakes are high, and people are vulnerable. For example, in an interview there is the potential of sharing yourself and your expertise, or gaining a new role, and it is when you can be nervous, uncomfortable and anxious. It is in these moments when a caring and expert leader can act with inclusive leadership skills – can create safety, ask curious and meaningful questions and listen with genuine interest to the answer.
Dr Anna Clark (PhD)
AMA Victoria Leadership consultant and coach
Dr Anna Clark is AMAVs Leadership consultant, coach and educator, currently offering individual coaching for doctors and directing the AMA’s professional development programs in leadership, the Emerging Leader Program and Middle Leader Program.
-  Center for Creative Leadership (2022). When inclusive leadership goes wrong and how to get it right.
-  Goldstein, D., Goluskin, S., Price, H., & Sperling-Magro, J. (2022). Three steps to supercharge DE&I capability building | McKinsey Blog.