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Inclusive leaders: DiSC S style leadership

Leaders who primarily use the inclusive dimension tend to be optimistic, collaborative, and dependable.
5 min read

The inclusive dimension of leadership

The Everything DiSC®-based typology of leadership styles helps determine your or your client’s primary leadership dimension and identify areas for development. It can also help you consider what type of leadership style might be most effective to use during specific organizational challenges.

Even though great leaders use each of the eight dimensions of leadership, they tend to prefer one or find one easier to exhibit. Leaders who primarily use the inclusive dimension tend to be optimistic, collaborative, and dependable. It reflects their S DiSC style.

Inclusive leadership seems to be a popular topic in the past few years, recognizing that the workplace and workforce are changing. But what do we mean by inclusive leadership?

Who is an inclusive leader?

Inclusive leaders are people-oriented, great listeners, and able to tap into the talents and motivations of their teams. They are patient, understanding, soft-spoken, and genuinely interested in others.

You won’t see this leader clawing their way to the top. Their need for status and achievement is lower than most. They might be competitive, but not from a need for them to be on top. They want to see the group succeed.

If you’re an inclusive leader you might notice that you have a desire to surround yourself with the familiar, to internalize problems, and to have a strong need for harmony. You probably didn’t become a leader to gain status.

Strengths of the inclusive leader:

  • They tend to be very people-oriented.
  • They’re often able to create a warm, safe environment.
  • They’re able to overlook other people’s flaws.
  • They tend to deliver reliable results.
  • They’re often good listeners.
  • They tend to be patient.
  • They’re willing to make compromises.
  • They tend to show appreciation for others’ contributions.

Goals: Harmony, stability, acceptance

Would increase effectiveness through: Displaying self-confidence, revealing true feelings

Source: The 8 Dimensions of Leadership

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 and Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge

What can we learn from inclusive leaders?

You can’t (and didn’t) do it alone

You’re not the only person who has great ideas and works hard. Inclusive leaders know this and know the importance of recognizing the contributions of others—even those people other leaders might overlook. They understand the importance of the team member in team work. They care more about their team succeeding than their own ego needs. They acknowledge even the poorly conceived idea in an effort to encourage better ones. They are more likely to say “yes, and” than “yeah, but.” As a result, they tend to stimulate better collaboration from their teams.

If leaders do not master collaborative relationships, both inside and outside the company, it can limit production of the outcomes needed to win our customers’ business.
Lori Beer, JPMorgan Chase

People respond to their leader’s words and emotions

I once sat through a presentation with a leader who kept saying reassuring statements all the while shaking his head no. Of course I listened to his negating gesture and distrusted his words. A leader’s emotions, gestures, and words are scrutinized for meaning by their followers.

A leader who displays negative emotions will cause additional stress among his colleagues and staff. People expect a certain level of diplomacy from their leaders even when speaking the hard truth. A leader can demand accountability and results without being belligerent. They don’t have to lose their cool to get a point across.

People respond positively to the authentic expression of positive emotions. A leader who shows passion for the projects, for the organization, and for the people involved can rally others. Showing positive emotions such as excitement or enthusiasm for a new project or happiness over someone’s good work can be motivating.

Only the leader can set the tone of the dialogue in the organization. Dialogue is the core of culture and the basic unit of work. How people talk to each other absolutely determines how well the organization will function.
Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

Really listen, actually listen

If you want to be listened to, you have to do your share of the listening. Gaining input from others will improve your decisions, and those who contributed—even if they argued on another side—are more likely to act upon them. Inclusive leaders are good at facilitating discussions that include everyone and focus on the issue at hand. They are likely to hear information they didn’t know or consider viewpoints and perspectives that make them broaden their own views, thereby encouraging more creative and responsive solutions.

Socially aware executives do more than sense other people’s emotions, they show that they care. Further, they are experts at reading the currents of office politics. Thus, resonant leaders often keenly understand how their words and actions make others feel, and they are sensitive enough to change them when that impact is negative.
Primal Leadership,” Harvard Business Review article by Daniel Goleman, et al.

The pitfalls of inclusive-only leadership

Pushing a team to achieve its goals can be difficult for inclusive leaders. They don’t like to feel rushed and don’t want to pressure others. They can struggle to model the drive, urgency, and intensity sometimes needed by a team needing to get immediate results.

A preference for the familiar can keep this type of leader from initiating or embracing change. They are more comfortable with incremental changes that will minimize tension and uncertainty. They prefer to be cautious.

Internalizing problems can be an issue for these leaders. They’d rather hold in their frustration than express it and risk destabilizing relationships. They never want anyone to feel offended or insulted by them. They are slow to anger and uncomfortable with those who get emotional. If they have to fight to be heard, they might choose to be silent, rather than risk appearing overly aggressive.

Since they try to find win-win situations and accommodate everyone, they can be slow to make decisions, especially unpopular or disruptive ones.

Leaders with high empathy can have a hard time saying “no.” Inclusive leaders want to be liked and to be seen as reasonable and compassionate. They can appear to lack confidence and authority. Physically, they may assume a posture or use gestures that make them appear smaller or less threatening. They need to be aware that they can come across as wishy-washy, indecisive, or lacking in confidence.

Whatever temporary pain you might incur from making a tough call should pale in comparison to the precedent you set that it’s important to put the organization’s success first.
Ron Carucci, cofounder and managing partner at Navalent

Related reading

You can’t (and didn’t) do it alone

People respond to their leader’s words and emotions

Really listen, actually listen


Kristeen Bullwinkle

Steeped in Everything DiSC since 2010. Strongly inclined CD style. Leadership style and EQ mindset: resolute. Believes strongly in the serial comma.

Certifications from Wiley:
Everything DiSC, The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team

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