20 August 2018 - Inclusive Leadership Practices

I presented this deck provided by Salesforce at the recent London Admin group and part of it gave 5 inclusive leadership practices that we can all adopt to help every member of our team feel a productive member. Here are the five and I’m going to go into more detail about them and tell you how, as a manager, I make these happen.

Lead with equality
Have brave, authentic conversations
Practice inclusive meetings
Be fair in assignments and promotions
Celebrate and bond with everyone in mind

Lead with equality
Add equality to your goals
Understand your team’s unique strengths
Practice inclusive hiring
Encourage active leadership and growth
Support flexibility
Be an equality ally

At the heart of where I work at Funding Circle, we do practice equality. You are hired based on your ability to do the job and your experience in your field of expertise.

As a manager there I appreciate my team’s strengths and use them to our advantage. Some will have more knowledge over one subject so it’s a business benefit for them to take the lead to get the job done; but what is important is for that knowhow to be transferred with other members so everyone can improve and contribute.

We have flexible work practices so that work can be completed without too much compromise of the work-life balance. If you need to spend time at home then we have the logistics available to make that happen.

Have brave, authentic conversations
Listen with empathy
Tell your story
Create a culture of transparency
Encourage healthy discourse
Emphasise accountability and forgiveness

I have regular 121 conversations with all my team members every 2 weeks. Sometimes there are diary clashes with the usual cadence and if this happens I will ensure that the catch up happens as near to the date/time as possible. Being there for my team is important. They value having the opportunity to talk about work and life stuff with me. Keeping the meetings at frequent periods allows for a bond to grow and to be able to talk about any subject that might be on their mind. Equally, if there are any items that need addressing by the individual, then these can be brought up quickly and nipped in the bud before any further escalation is required. Regular chats can help to maintain the peace, give guidance on best practice behaviours, and help keep a happy workforce.

On a team level I encourage everyone to use their voice. There is so much about Salesforce that one person doesn’t know everything. When we are working through a solution it isn’t always mine or the tech lead’s opinions that should always win. I’m open to being challenged and will often let a less experienced member roll with an idea and investigate if its right for the business.

At a wider scale, Funding Circle holds a weekly global meeting to convey latest news to all the employees in the business, followed by local office updates. The meetings are kept short with only key items mentioned, along with welcoming new starters and any featured topics. Its an effective way to remain in touch with other departments/countries news.

Practice inclusive meetings
Equality in conversational turn-taking
High emotional sensitivity

Google conducted a study that showed that if you give everyone a turn to speak in a meeting then the group together will exhibit a higher level of empathy for each other which in turn improves performance. Google's perfect team

Salesforce suggests using the Equality Ally practices for managing inclusive meetings, by following 4 elements: Ask, Listen, Show Up, Speak Up. 
Ask to hear from the quieter or more introverted employees as well as anyone on the line.
Listen with respect and mindfulness. Refrain from talking over others. Signal that you are actively listening by making eye contact rather than looking at your phone or computer.
Show up and be ready to engage, participate, and act with inclusion. Also, consider who else is showing up. Bring in new voices from other groups to ensure diverse perspectives and ideas are being shared.
Speak up when someone is being interrupted, not getting credit or says something inappropriate.

Certainly as a Manager, with a globally located team, I wanted to bring my people together. While the physical element may be complicated we do have the power of technology to assist so every Wednesday we hold a team meeting. We all gather around with our laptops, using Zoom to connect via video. Its important to see each other’s faces. It helps to be more connected with one another. Everyone takes turn to talk about the project they are working on. With so many streams of work happening right now (everyone in the business wants a piece of Salesforce) its often the case that each team member is almost working on a different task to their neighbour, and having more interaction with our implementation partner resources. The meeting is an opportunity to ask advice from others and share best practice and maybe a good story or two.

Be fair in assignments and promotions
When I first arrived art Funding Circle they weren’t quite sure about the differences between the Admin and Developer roles, assuming that Admins had a reduced scope of ability. In reality, Admins have a different set of skills to that of a Developer. Its how you use them that is important. By changing their mindset I have been able to give the Admins greater exposure to the platform which in turn increases their skillset and improves our internal capabilities. Its helped the Developers focus on tasks that are more tuned to their experience.

This has helped to spread the juicier, high visibility projects around more of the team and not on just a few individuals.  When it comes to review time people have more achievements to shout about. It gives better opportunities for promotional prospects in the future too. When a business is transparent on the process for promotion then a person can actively work towards that goal.

Celebrate and bond with everyone in mind
The act of team bonding is important part of work culture. It helps to bring people together and form a stronger work alliance. If people spend quality time together away from the office then they will happily roll their sleeves up and contribute when times get tough. Occasionally a bonding session can alienate some members due to the activity or the timing of it. Not everyone may want to go to the pub and drink after hours. If they are not a drinker, or need to get home for family commitments then they can feel left out. Its therefore important to mix up the activities to a range of options; a lunch or social activity that can allow more inclusive participation.

So, if you’re feeling inspired to practice more inclusive leadership or want to learn more, then you can hit Trailhead and the special Trailmix: Equality Trail


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