You Only Need to Do 4 Things to Be a Great Leader, Study Finds

Inclusive leadership is used to describe leaders who make employees feel included in and aligned with their organization, its vision and goals.

Inclusive leadership is important because employees who feel included are more innovative and more likely to go above "the call of duty" for their organization, according to a new study by the Catalyst Research Center for Advancing Leader Effectiveness.

The study uncovered four key behaviors linked with inclusive leadership, which were profiled in a Harvard Business Reviewarticle on the study's results:

  1. "Acts of humility, such as learning from criticism and admitting mistakes;"
  2. "Empowering followers to learn and develop;"
  3. "Acts of courage, such as taking personal risks for the greater good;" and
  4. "Holding employees responsible for results."

While empowering others, taking risks and demanding accountability have long been known to be important leadership behaviors, the importance of humility is less recognized.

Leaders are supposed to have the answer for everything, and know exactly where to lead the organization….right? Not so, say some leadership experts.

When leading an organization in a complex, rapidly changing industry, "no one person will ever have all the answers," write the Catalyst study's authors in the HBR article.

How does a leader display humility? The authors provide four ideas:

  • Share your mistakes as teachable moments.
  • Engage in dialogue, not debates
  • Embrace uncertainty.
  • Role model being a "follower."

Humility may not come naturally to all leaders. In fact, many organizations too often reward those employees who promote themselves over others. As the authors write:

"A selfless leader should not be mistaken for a weak one. It takes tremendous courage to practice humility in the ways described above. Yet regrettably, this sort of courage isn’t always rewarded in organizations. Rather than selecting those who excel as self-promotion, as is often the case, more organizations would be wise to follow the lead of companies like Google, Rockwell Automation, and others that are re-imagining what effective leadership looks like."

What does effective leadership look like in your organization? With humility now playing a starring role in leadership effectiveness — and organizational success, it may be time to examine your organization to ensure your leaders exhibit humility, and those who already do aren't passed up as others rise to the top.

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