The 6 C’s of inclusive leaders

More than 40% of Service Members identify as members of marginalized and underrepresented groups such as LGBTQ, BIPOC, and others. Given that the military is more diverse than ever, leadership that enables inclusion helps everyone feel they belong and are valued for their unique skills, perspectives, and contributions to their team.

Inclusive leaders embody 6 positive behaviors that help all team members feel included and valued. Inclusive leadership is critical for mission success among diverse teams, and it promotes positive group outcomes.

Inclusive leaders show:

  • Commitment: Inclusive leaders commit to making diversity and inclusion a priority. Their personal values are aligned with inclusion, they hold teammates accountable, and they work to make sure each member feels included and valued.
  • Courage: Inclusive leaders admit their own mistakes, are humble about their strengths, and accept feedback from others.
  • Cognizance of bias: Inclusive leaders are aware of their own biases and personal blind spots. They demonstrate self-awareness. When cognizance of bias is combined with courage, it can increase feelings of inclusion by up to 25%.
  • Curiosity: Inclusive leaders are curious about those around them. They work to understand others, engage in perspective-taking, and listen without judgment. When curiosity is combined with cognizance of bias, it can increase feelings of inclusion by up to 33%.
  • Cultural competence: Inclusive leaders learn about various cultures and values and adapt as needed.
  • Collaboration: Inclusive leaders encourage teamwork, empower teammates, and focus on building cohesion and psychological safety.

    Graphic provides a visual representation of the 6 C’s from the article text: Commitment, courage, cognizance of bias, curiosity, cultural competence, and collaboration.

Inclusive leadership is vital for mission success. Teams with an inclusive leader have better performance, personnel retention, stronger relationships among teammates, and up to a 70% increase in team members feeling included.

To learn more about teamwork, belongingness, and diversity, check out these HPRC resources:

Published on: July 3, 2024

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Masakowski, Y. R. (2017). Inclusive leadership and the dynamics of multinational military operations. Global and Culturally Diverse Leaders and Leadership (pp. 233–249). Newport, RI: U.S. Naval War College.

Randel, A. E., Galvin, B. M., Shore, L. M., Ehrhart, K. H., Chung, B. G., Dean, M. A., & Kedharnath, U. (2018). Inclusive leadership: Realizing positive outcomes through belongingness and being valued for uniqueness. Human Resource Management Review, 28(2), 190–203. doi:10.1016/j.hrmr.2017.07.002