Harvard Business Review has just published an article which highlights that those leaders who are not inclusive tend to overrate their inclusive capability and those who are inclusive tend to underrate themselves. Whilst this disconnect is not surprising, it poses huge risks to the realisation of an organisation’s D & I strategy because the very leaders who need to build their inclusion skills don’t believe they have developmental needs to address!

Symmetra’s research over the last two years using our two Inclusion Assessment Tools (the Inclusive Leadership Index and the Team Inclusion Pulse Survey) with hundreds of leaders in the Property, Financial and Legal services sectors (amongst others) demonstrates the very same disconnect.

What is heartening though, is the telling impact these Inclusion assessments have had on leaders. Faced with the granular results on just how inclusive their behaviour is experienced to be by those who work with them, spread across the eight competencies of Symmetra’s model that define inclusive behaviour, they obtain insight into exactly what changes in everyday behaviours are needed.

As an executive leader said to me at his inclusion coaching session after debriefing him on his results:

I have never really understood what it means to be inclusive other than showing respect towards and valuing those who are different. But these results explain exactly what I do well, where I fall short and precisely what I need to do differently – what behaviours will embed psychological safety in my team; what behaviours will position me to leverage diversity of thought; how to engage with and value difference; how to be flexible and agile; how to demonstrate a learning mindset and span boundaries and so on… this has been a real eye opener for me and is an inspiration for action.”

In addition and of note, work with our clients over six to twelve month periods has shown that because the ILI enables leaders to benchmark their results against others; to retest a year later so they can monitor their personal progress; and provides an overall SuperInclusion score for balanced scorecards, it has acted as a compelling catalyst for sustained behavioural change and kept front of mind the value of inclusion in optimising team performance.

With tools such as these to diagnose individual and team developmental needs on Inclusion and to set up accountability for improvement, we can really accelerate the much-needed building of inclusive leadership capability across organisations.