How to Create an Inclusive Leadership Development Process

Leadership development can be described as activities to help improve skills, abilities and instill confidence in leaders and potential leaders. Organizations should want to expand the knowledge of their workforce and push them to continually develop and in this process foster the development of great leaders. When talking about a leadership development process, one of the most important things to do is to make sure you are being inclusive to all when it comes to creating your development program. 

March is Women’s History Month and because of this we will focus on the inclusion of women into your leadership development process. It is not about having an individual program for women, it is about making them feel like they have equal opportunity as anyone else in the workplace and introducing a company culture that reflects that. To fully understand women’s inclusion in the workplace we first need to understand some of the challenges women sometimes face within the workplace. 

Common challenges for women in the workplace:  

1. The small number of female leaders today

It is important for women striving to be leaders to have mentors to help them along the way to propel them to the next level in the workplace. The shortage of females in leadership today makes it more difficult for other women to have that role model at work.  

2. Equality

Gender bias and gender equality play a huge role in the challenges that women face. Women are always working to break the glass ceiling in the workplace to propel themselves to the next level.  

3. How females are perceived in the workplace

Gender stereotypes often put negative angle to confidence and strength in the workplace. It is often portrayed as bossy.  

These challenges are common but nothing that women cannot overcome or anyone else for that matter. There have been many successful women in leadership, from the former CEO of PepsiCo. Indra Nooyi, Melinda Gates, and the CEO of Bumble, Whitney Wolfe, who recently brought her company public being the youngest female CEO to do so in history. These women took these challenges and rose above them to make themselves powerhouses within their industry and their company. And this is achievable for any woman.  

Looking at the women above shows not only that becoming a woman in leadership is possible but that is achievable through hard work and perseverance. Below we will explain three ways to help foster leadership development in the workplace. These points touch upon items that are important in every leadership development program and especially important for women as they push themselves into the next level in their career.  

Remember, when it comes to leadership many people think that means “I have to be CEO one day and this could not be more wrong. Leadership and leadership development can mean a wide range of things from becoming a front-line manager with one direct report all the way up to becoming a CEO or president of the company. This is an important note for everyone who wants to become a leader. And as an organization you want to foster leadership development at every level and show that an individual’s professional life can and should develop at every levelBelow are ways you can easily integrate leadership development in your workplace:  

3 Ways to help foster leadership development: 

1. Self-Awareness 

According to self-awareness is defined as an awareness osomeones own personality or individuality. Being an employee with strong self-awareness deals with a certain repour and the amount of emotional intelligence they have while navigating through a job using their strengths and recognizing their weaknesses. This can be developed in the workplace through formal leadership development such as classes or you as an organization can help individuals become aware of these things through reviews, assessments and more to help an employee see their own strengths and weaknesses and be more self-aware on the job.  

2. Communication and negotiation

Many times, the obstacle that stands in the way of making a good leader is if an individual is willing to speak up and share their ideas etc. Having good communication can help leaders give big presentations to colleagues or stakeholders, talk to their peers and subordinates, and help them work more collaboratively withing their team or company. Learning communication skills can also help with negotiation, which can help leaders when asking for internal things within the workplace that they think they deserve such as a raise and will help when dealing with sales. When teaching these skills, it is important to give these potential leaders opportunity to speak up during meeting and presentations where they can slowly become more comfortable and practice their communication skills.  

3. Build Confidence

This is something that every person should have and can be built in many ways. Teaching potential leaders, the skills above are ways to build confidence because individuals will have more tools to use and will be able to more easily share ideas. On top of this it is important that your organization also has a way of rewarding good/great work. The easiest way to build confidence is by letting employees know when they are doing something right and going above and beyond in their role. For females it is more important. According to the New York Times female confidence levels fall by 30 percent between the ages of 8-14 making it even more important to make building confidence a part of your leadership development process.  

Overall, these steps and items should be included in every leadership development process. Including these items will help develop an individual both professionally and personally, giving them helpful skills that will allow them to navigate their job and help propel them forward. These items are also particularly important to include because it helps foster inclusion in the workplace and within your leadership development program or process Giving them these tools through your process will help anyone, especially women, have the necessary tools to become a great leader within your organization 

Related Resource: Leadership Development – Big Questions Answered 

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