Critical Characteristics Of Inclusive Leadership

“Leadership is a dialogue, not a monologue. To enlist support, leaders must have intimate knowledge of people’s dreams, hopes, aspirations, visions, and values.” 

Jim Kouzes & Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge

The above words resound the idea of inclusion quite strongly and vividly. Among the many different forms of leadership styles out there in the world, inclusive leadership is a new capability that is vital to the way leadership can be executed.

According to the Gallup organisation, individuals with the CliftonStrengths StrengthsFinder talent theme of ‘Includer’ tend to be people-oriented by nature. They display awareness of those who feel left out and make a conscious effort to include them. 

Similarly, inclusive leadership style has distinctive characteristics that distinguish it from other styles and some of these traits share common grounds with the Includer talent theme too. 

There are also various other traits that categorise this particular form of leadership style and in this article, we will be sharing some of the critical characteristics that make up the concept of inclusive leadership. 

Depiction Of Cognisance

Within the workspace, cognisance refers to a form of awareness or knowledge that is displayed in relation to a certain subject or matter that occurs within the office. 

As such, when practicing inclusive leadership in the workplace, cognisance needs to be clearly depicted by the leaders. 

Leaders within an organisation can practice cognisance at work by being aware of the “situations and factors, such as time pressures and fatigue, which [cause] them to be most vulnerable to biases’ pull”.

Leaders who practice the style of inclusive leadership at work understand that “biases can narrow their field of vision and preclude them from making objective decisions” within the workplace. 

The critical characteristic of cognisance at work can thus allow greater room for a more “objective and collective view of talents” that promotes diversity of both people and ideas within the working environment. 

With such numerous benefits to be gained as a result of cognisance being practiced in the workplace, inclusive leadership can be better adopted by leaders when the critical characteristic of cognisance is displayed and understood in the office. 

Incorporate Collaboration

The second critical characteristic that leaders should adopt to better practice inclusive leadership is collaboration. Strongly inclusive leaders actively promote collaboration in the workplace. 

As the Global Chief Information Officer of JP Morgan Chase & Co once said, “If leaders do not master collaborative relationships, both inside and outside the company, it can limit production of the outcomes needed to win customers’ business.” 

Additionally, according to an article published by The Wall Street Journal, leaders “need to create an environment in which all individuals feel empowered to express their opinions freely with the group”. 

When leaders ensure that their colleagues’ voices can be heard, collaboration can take better effect within the workspace. Adopting the critical characteristic of collaboration can thus ensure that there are more “places where different ideas and individuals can mix” within the office. 

These reasons demonstrate how vital the trait of collaboration can be for leaders and organisations when it comes to practicing inclusive leadership at the office. 

The Value Of Curiosity

The third critical characteristic of inclusive leadership can be attributed to the quality of curiosity that should be expressed by leaders in organisations. 

The value of curiosity stands to provide enriching grounds for both leaders and co-workers alike. This notion is seconded by the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Dell Inc., Michael Dell, who responded in an interview that the one attribute CEOs need to succeed in the future is curiosity. 

When practicing inclusive leadership through curiosity, leaders should endeavour to get out of the bubble whenever possible so as to seek out “new influences, ideas and experiences that may fire up the desire to learn more and dig deeper”. 

According to an article published on, leaders can also express their curiosity by partaking in establishing openness, practicing perspective-taking as well as by coping with ambiguity. 

As such, embracing the quality of curiosity encourages building connections with various others, which in turn, promotes empathy and the exchange of perspectives between and amongst one another in the office environment. 

This is why curiosity is also one of the critical characteristics that make up inclusive leadership in the modern world. 

Demonstrate Commitment

Fourthly, commitment is also one of the critical characteristics that make up inclusive leadership in the modern world. Leaders display their commitment to the betterment of their colleagues and workplace in various ways.

With that being said, when two of a leader’s most precious commodities which includes both their time and energy is invested into cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce, a leader is clearly demonstrating the value of commitment. 

Inclusive leaders can be seen practising commitment by treating all team members with fairness and respect. They may also express commitment by “proactively adapt[ing] their work practices to meet the needs of others”. 

Leaders who subscribe to inclusive leadership will also “take action to ensure that each of their team members feels connected to the group/organisation”. Their investments and display of efforts in these circumstances are also a mark of commitment. 

As such, commitment is also one of the critical characteristics that make up the unique concept of inclusive leadership. 


In conclusion, inclusive leadership style has been cited as the future of conducting businesses as leaders. Some of the critical characteristics of inclusive leadership that leaders can consider adopting include cognisance, collaboration, curiosity as well as commitment. 

Implementing the ideology of inclusive leadership within organisations can boost significant margin and also allow employees to feel included when working with teams at their company. Perhaps, it’s time for your company to start practicing inclusive leadership style too!


StrengthsAsia has helped many individual and corporate clients all throughout the region in identifying and maximizing their talents, in driving engagement and increasing motivation in their work and life. If you want to learn more about the Strengths Leadership Program, feel free to reach out to us here.

Reshma is StrengthsAsia’s content writer and research contributor. She enjoys spending her time writing anything from poems to screenplays, and everything in between. She also finds joy in reading novels, baking and catching movies with her family. Participating in creative activities helps her find inspiration and new ideas for her work.

Aly is StrengthsAsia’s marketing and communications guru and lead editor. She's over the top inquisitive and everyone in the company knows her as “The Googler” as she practically googles everything. Honestly, we all worry for her… She is also the Principal Trainer for our one of a kind ice cream team building workshops in Asia.

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