Are we proactively creating inclusion safety?

Two months ago, I promised to keep in touch by providing a small reminder or a flash of inspiration to help keep you motived on your Leadership and Development journey…well that 2 months has come around quickly!

What did I promise to share?

Just 3 things:

1. An Insight on what’s currently relevant from a leadership / learning perspective

2. A practical tip to support this

3. And something a little light-hearted and hopefully fun!

I came across this quote recently by Jessica Williams, American actress, writer, and comedienne,

“It’s impossible to be perfect, and you won’t do a good job if you’re too focused on proving yourself to others.” – Jessica Williams

1. This got me thinking about the times when I’ve mentally struggled by getting caught up with second guessing if I’m meeting other people’s standards, or when I’ve been working with coaching clients that are so frozen in self doubt and doing “the perceived right thing” that their performance and mental health suffers.

Yes admittedly, there may be a few people out there that have created a habit of aiming for the ever illusive perfection, however, trying to prove ourselves is often a sign that we are not feeling wholly accepted for who we are, we don’t feel fully backed or included, all this noise takes up head space and prevents us from focusing on what we Can do, it’s stops us from taking risks or being open to asking the “stupid/obvious” questions in order to learn, grow and contribute.

Some of the detrimental effects of exclusion were shared by Jeff Knibbs, Organisational Culture Consultant at a recently attended Neuroleadership Institute webinar (they have some great research and resources that look at the neurological aspect of leadership):

Given that many people are already feeling overwhelmed, fatigued, and anxious from the past 2 years and there’s now mixed emotions about eventually returning to the work/office environment - it’s more critical than ever that we are conscious about how we set each other up for success by creating safe and inclusive environments so that people can:

· Feel safe enough to bring their full selves to work

· Are comfortable to collaborate and work within teams freely

· Can challenge the status quo and share ideas where they see opportunities to improve

· …. without feeling the need to be perfect!

2. So, what are some simple and practical suggestions that could make a difference?

I’ve recently run leadership workshops that have incorporated some of Timothy R Clark’s research from his book; The 4 stages of psychological safety – the first step is inclusion safety, being inclusive doesn’t mean just inviting people to contribute, it means proactively seeing people as fully human – acknowledging people because they are there, e.g. their presence matters, so do their needs and feelings, both inside and outside of work. He shares an example of where he was no longer able to contribute to a sports team due to injury, which resulted in him being excluded from the ongoing coaching catch ups – this impacted his trust as well as his self-worth about his future value with the team.

Some tips could be:

  • Are we simply looking up and acknowledging that someone is there?

  • Are we asking (and listening) to how people want to work (or return to work)? What are their priorities/concerns?

  • Do teams need to reconnect and redefine what their team culture now needs to look like?

  • Challenge your own fixed mindset about what yourself and others are capable of

  • Remove judgment, demonstrate more curiosity of people’s ideas and actions

  • Encourage people to give it a go and see what everyone can learn from outcomes

  • Recognise and thank people for the good work they are doing -this is basic, but often forgot

  • Don’t change the parameters e.g. if someone is no longer in your team/squad ensure that you still acknowledge their value

3. Just for fun!

Oh, the irony of what I’ve personally experienced. I’ve just re-read and agonised over what I’ve written, wanting it to be perfect!

…what am I trying to prove – I’m sure it’s safe and no-one is judging!

I hope you found this thought provoking and perhaps it has given you 1 or 2 ideas you may want to explore to set yourself and others up for success.

Please let me know if there are any topics you’d like to hear more about or connect if you’d like to discuss how I could support you or your team’s development.