Inclusive Leadership Is Our Gift to the World

Inclusive Leadership Education is the Inclusive Leadership Co-operative’s collaborative and inspiring gift to the world.

This post – collaboratively written Nov 25 and Dec 2, 2018 by 23 members and supporters of the Inclusive Leadership Co-operative – helps explain why members of the Inclusive Leadership Co-operative are so dedicated to bringing diverse people together to nurture and mentor Inclusive Leadership development.

The first step is to show up to explore our own diverse identities and develop comfort with being ourselves.

Daring to explore, share, and celebrate our own diverse identities opens doors to exploring social diversity and biodiversity in the wider world.

Youth and adults from diverse backgrounds learn skills for building bridges to equality through experience and interaction rather than just talking. Everyone is engaged in opening hearts and minds to learning skills and building awareness through equal and active Participatory Action Learning and Appreciative Inquiry.  Our inter-generational and inter-cultural immersion methods bring to life the values of safety, respect, freedom of choice, gratitude, generosity and joy. Experience is the best teacher for learning the Inclusive Leadership skills of Compassionate Communication, the Building Bridges steps, Connecting with Differences and Anti-Discrimination First Aid.

Our methodology is based on the power of learning through relaxed play, shared laughter and the universal language of fun. Relaxing indoor and outdoor learning experiences engage adults and youth in interacting with each other equally and meaningfully. We learn to listen. We learn to seek to understand by asking open questions out of curiosity rather than judgment and by listening with all our senses including our hearts. We learn to connect compassionately with each others different cultures, abilities, life experiences, concerns and passions through our interactions.

Experienced Inclusive Leaders follow the Building Bridges steps to develop many different Inclusive Leadership activities and workshops. Some are introductory experiences such as canoeing, co-operative sports, movement, poetry, Identity Art Projects, making Earth Charter globes, or creative performances in front of the crowd. It is beautiful to see how Inclusive Leadership reframes behind-the-scenes skills such as being supportive, listening or following-the-leaders-behind-us as important skills.

Some Inclusive Leadership workshops dive deep into one area such as Compassionate Communication or Anti-discrimination First Aid where we teach and learn how to shift away from bias, judgement, and discrimination in many different ways. Of course direct experience is the best teacher. Experienced Inclusive Leaders are prepared to role-model how to apply Anti-Discrimination First Aid skillfully when rules are broken or there are hurtful situations. This creates opportunities to experience restorative justice in ways that include everyone.

The Earth Charter is our framework for thinking globally and acting locally to help build inclusive, welcoming communities enriched by social diversity and biodiversity. We learn that everyone and everything is inter-related by extending our respect for ourselves as diverse human beings outward to each other and to the outdoors. Being present and calm while connecting with all the diverse beings in human societies and in nature is a transcendental experience of feeling completely and totally connected to people, nature and the world. This results in a deep and inspiring sense of belonging to a global movement made up of millions of people who are transforming, enriching, sustaining our communities by embracing diversity.

Inclusive Leadership education has a great impact because it resonates personally. We meet each other at our different stages of being the changes we want to see in the world and guide each other to create and carry out meaningful action plans for living, learning and leading more inclusively in our diverse communities. As a direct result of participating in Inclusive Leadership education, we transition away from world-views based on being addicted to being right. We shift toward listening to valuing and learning from others perspectives, other places, and other points of view that people are coming from.

We become more open-minded, peaceful, accepting and compassionate. By embracing all the skills and principles of Inclusive Leadership, we learn how to be these skills and values in our daily lives, our personal relationships, our families and in the places we work and volunteer.

The process of learning to see differences as strengths and assets leads to many Inclusive Leaders becoming more and more engaged in social and environmental justice. Inclusive Leaders have a vital role to play in meetings and any groups that we are part of because we have learned to share leadership in ways that include everyone and don’t put people on the spot. We become more prepared to respond assertively, compassionately and inclusively instead of reacting negatively to difficult situations.

When people engage in exclusive, closed conversations with generalizations, stereotyping about gender or power, we are prepared to respond with Anti-Discrimination First Aid. We assess the situation, breathe and communicate in ways that intentionally free everyone from cycles of hurt and from in-jokes or any sort of humor at others expense. By honing our skills for listening to others, Inclusive Leaders are able to listen and wait past that moment of doubt or fear or impatience and listen just a moment longer to what another person has to say. Inclusive Leaders have learned to relax, notice, empathize with self and others and then be courageous enough to ask questions that might be overwhelming for others to ask. By showing up in our diverse communities in these inclusive and welcoming ways, Inclusive Leaders are turning a scary world into the caring and wonderful world we all want to live in.

Co-created by Art Phipps,  Betty Doherty, Claudia Sanchez, Donna Sassaman, Graham Fielding, Harriet Greenwood, Janice Milnerwood, Jenny Ferris, John Scull, Joy Emmanuel, Kix Citton, Linda Hill, Lindsay Beal, Maureen Nicholson, Melissa Parker, Neil Dolan, Nola Landucci, Paul Van Goozen, Raj Gill, Sarah Mathison, Susan Norris, Terri Beaton, Tina Fabbro and Tyler Schauz.