3 Ways Inclusive Leaders Communicate


image0When leaders commit to building an inclusive organization, they tend to start with the company mission, vision, and values, and a promise to ensure everyone in the organization has a voice. But when those same leaders’ everyday behaviors don’t support those efforts, the progress stops there. And one of the crucial behaviors that can make or break a leaders’ commitment to inclusion is communication.

In a recent analysis, our team at Quantified examined the way inclusive leaders talk. We applied a combination of expert evaluation, computational linguistics, vocal mapping, and facial micro-expression analysis to answer two questions:

  1. How successfully are inclusive leaders supporting their commitments through communication?
  2. What truly makes a leader inclusive in the eyes of an audience?

The findings revealed that, despite the stated emphasis on inclusion, very few leaders have actually developed an inclusive communication style. Fortunately for leaders looking to create more inclusive company cultures, our analysis also identified three ways leaders can signal their commitment to inclusion through communication.

3 Ways Inclusive Leaders Communicate_Overview

Download our latest report, 3 Ways Inclusive Leaders Communicate, cowritten by Extraordinary Women on Boards founder, Lisa Shalett.

1.    Inclusive Leaders Are Audience-Centered

Inclusion PersonalizedInclusive leaders personalize their communications for the audience 36% more frequently than the average senior leader. In other words, they put their audiences first and adapt messages to their needs, values interests, and demographic makeup.

Our report shares four strategies for developing audience-centric communication along with examples of common pitfalls to inclusive language. It also offers up alternatives that keep your audience’s needs front and center.

2.    Inclusive Leaders Are Knowledgeable

We found inclusive leaders use language that demonstrates subject matter expertise 21% more frequently than the average senior leader. They establish themselves as experts, often by citing research and demonstrating an ability to understand different perspectives and communicate complex topics to diverse audiences. They intentionally include language that demonstrates thorough exploration and a multifaceted understanding of the topic at hand and portrays a willingness to empathetically view the issue from multiple people’s perspectives.

So what does that look like in action? We’ll show you, and we’ll provide actionable strategies for  communicating more knowledgeably.

3.    Inclusive Leaders Are Authentic

Inclusion AuthenticFinally, we found that the most inclusive leaders are perceived as 22% more authentic relative to the average senior leader. What does that mean? Entrepreneur Seth Godin defines authenticity as “consistent emotional labor.” We call a brand or a person authentic when they’re consistent, when they act the same way whether or not someone is looking. Someone is authentic when their actions are in alignment with what they promise.

Authenticity can be surprisingly hard to achieve in leadership communication. Our report highlights one former Fortune 100 CEO who is consistently authentic in her communication, and offers key delivery tips to help you bring your true self to every scenario.

Learn to Be More Inclusive — Starting with Your Word

The findings of our study help pinpoint the difference between stated intention and actual leadership outcomes. We’re witnessing so many leaders across virtually every industry pledge to be more inclusive, and our goal is to help those leaders ensure their behaviors support their efforts — starting with communication. And the good news is that these communication strategies, just like any science, can be analyzed, learned, and mastered. Download our full report to get started today.