Profile: Inclusive Leadership Assessment Tool – a multi-rater perspective

In today’s age of globally diverse, multidisciplinary teams, inclusive leadership is essential to ensure all team members feel respected and valued, experience a sense of belonging and feel comfortable to meaningfully contribute and bring their best self to work. However, inclusive leadership goes beyond creating respectful workplaces – it also leads to increased performance. The recent Harvard Business Review article “Why Inclusive Leaders Are Good For Organizations, and How to Become One” (2019) provides evidence supporting the impact inclusive leadership on business and performance outcomes: 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.

The necessity for inclusive leadership to operate in today’s global world has stimulated organisations like Deloitte to develop a 360-degree assessment tool. One example of a tool is the Inclusive Leadership Assessment (ILA) which assesses raters’ perceptions of inclusive leadership across six core dimensions (to read more about the dimensions, see here). The ILA specifically has now been used for more than 500 leaders globally, with over 4,000 raters. The question is: how does an assessment and development create value?

Aim

To explore what happens as a result of an inclusive leadership assessment and coaching intervention from the perspective of a leader, coach and rater. A multi-rater approach was taken to gain insight into not only the impact of the tool on the understanding and actions of the leader, but also what the wider impact may be on others.

Method

Three individuals were interviewed: a leader who completed the ILA in late 2018, a direct report who recently rated their leader in 2019, and a coach who has debriefed approximately 40 leaders using the ILA.

Interviewees were asked about:

  1. What inclusive leadership means to them
  2. What their experience has been with the ILA 
  3. What they think the value is of an inclusive leadership assessment and development intervention.

Note: the comments of the coach and direct report do not relate to the same leader interviewed.

Results

The three perspectives are compared and contrasted below: leader, rater (direct report) and coach. Following this, this article presents a number of key insights and takeaways for practitioners and organisations.

Perspective 1: The Leader

The leader outlined how their experience with the Inclusive Leadership Assessment shaped their understanding of both inclusive leadership as a concept and the impact of their own leadership actions on others:

“I think inclusive leadership means that every individual can bring their best self to work. It provides a sense of psychological safety so people can bring forward their ideas and speak up, and it’s also about setting a culture that is reflective of the broader community.

Inclusion was something I was already quite mindful of, and I’ve worked on having inclusive culture and diversity goals throughout my career. Through the ILA process I’ve now developed a more sophisticated view on this topic. The ILA tool tells you how people perceive you, and shows the importance of creating a leadership shadow – when I’m in the room and when I’m not. I’ve learned how important it is to be explicit about commitments and expected actions related to D&I. I’m also excited to have more of a toolkit on how to be more inclusive.

Since going through the ILA as a leadership team, my staff and peers are already speaking more explicitly about activities that will improve the inclusive culture. There are many things we may think we’ve learnt about D&I along the way, but without some level of assessment and feedback, you don’t have much structure or clarity over what you need to do to be a more inclusive leader. The ILA goes deeper in terms of behaviours, then packages it all up together in a way that’s both sophisticated and simple.”

Perspective 2: The Rater (Direct Report)

The rater discussed the ease of using the ILA, and how there was a personal learning experience that went beyond the simple act of providing feedback to their leader:

“For me inclusive leadership is about taking the people you work with into consideration, not just yourself or the outcome of project. It’s also about getting the most out of the people we’re leading and thinking about them as a whole person, and how we can best support them.

Inclusive leadership was not a phrase I was previously aware of, and there wasn’t much initial background information provided with the tool. However I still found it very intuitive to complete and to me the questions reflected what I already saw as good leadership.

Reflecting on the experience, I found that not only was the tool helpful for providing feedback to my leader, but I also found it useful for reflecting on my own behaviour. I only completed the assessment recently, so it’s too early to say I’m doing anything differently, but the more you’re exposed to things, the more you consider them. Inclusive behaviours are something I aspire to, and after this experience I can see myself putting more thought into my decisions!

Going through a 360 degree assessment helps leaders make sure they’re on track with what they’re trying to role-model, and for raters it’s also a chance to learn from the questions asked and the concepts raised.”

Perspective 3: The Coach

The coach, whose role includes debriefing the leader on their results, and providing follow-up coaching, talked about the practicality of the ILA, and what core messages organisations send when investing in a 360-degree assessment tools such as the ILA:

“I’ve been working as an ILA coach for a year, but my whole career has taught me the importance of inclusion. I like to think of inclusive leadership as a combination of authenticity and welcoming. Essentially, do people feel welcome, and can they bring their whole selves to the organisation? Leaders shape an inclusive organisational culture not by saying it should be inclusive, but by being a role-model for inclusion.

For me, there’s so much value in helping leaders to operationalise inclusion in the day-to-day. People may already understand that being inclusive is the right thing to do both morally and for business, but helping them move beyond HR practices into every day acts is so positive – and the clients love it! What’s also valuable is that the impact is broader than the individual only. Investing in an inclusive leadership assessment tool sends a firm statement to the broader organisation that inclusion is important!”

What’s also valuable is that the impact is broader than the individual only. Investing in an inclusive leadership assessment tool sends a firm statement to the broader organisation that inclusion is important!”

Insights and lessons learned

Whilst each interviewee provided a different angle on the definition of inclusive leadership, there was a common view that inclusive leadership enables people to bring their whole selves to work.

The feedback received through the interviews indicated that implementation of an inclusive leadership assessment tool provides a valuable opportunity for self-reflection and increased self-awareness for leaders. Importantly, the interviews suggest that this self-reflection and development occurs not only for those being rated, but for the raters too.

The interviewees also indicated that the tool also delivers value by sending a strong message that role-modelling and asking for feedback are important parts of leadership, and that inclusion is being valued within an organisation.

Beyond the above, there is a key opportunity to make the concept of inclusive leadership more accessible to all by proving more background information up front to raters. Provision of additional context regarding inclusive leadership to raters, and not just leaders and coaches, has the potential to educate and uplift individual and organisational inclusive behaviours further still.

Lessons for organisations and leaders include:

  • Being inclusive leader means more than caring about inclusion, and requires leaders to visibly commit to inclusive behaviours and actions in the day-to-day;
  • While leaders may consider themselves to be inclusive, they need to seek continuously feedback to understand how others perceive them to ensure they are making the right impact;
  • The use of an inclusive leadership assessment sends a strong message within an organisation that inclusion is valued.

Overall, the three perspectives provided from interviews emphasise the value of an inclusive leadership assessment tool in not only measuring, but also driving inclusive leadership in day-to-day moments.

For more information about this article, please contact Sophie Roberts, Human Capital Consulting Sydney Australia.

To read more about the six signature traits of inclusive leadership, see here.

References:

Bourke, J., & Espedido, A. (2019). Why Inclusive Leaders Are Good For Organizations And How To Become One. Harvard Business Review.


Want to stay up-to-date?

Stay on trend and in the know when you sign up for our latest content

Subscribe