Empowered, Inclusive Leadership at all Levels

Empowered, inclusive leadership is essential at all levels of an organization

In a 2014 paper evaluating leadership trends, the multinational management firm Deloitte advocated the importance of cultivating leaders at every level of an organization. Its authors explain:

Today’s market environment places a premium on speed, flexibility, and the ability to lead in uncertain situations. At the same time, the flattening of organizations has created an explosion in demand for leadership skills at every level.¹

For inclusion to become part of a museum’s culture, it is essential for paid, volunteer, and executive staff to develop the skills for authentic, inclusive leadership. To accomplish this goal, museums can:

  • highlight successes and reward team members for outstanding inclusion efforts
  • provide training for emerging professionals
  • establish employee resource groups
  • build staff and community coalitions to address barriers

Inclusive leadership does not mean simply creating a position and expecting that one person will do all the work. It does not mean allowing those professionals who are already doing the work to continue to do so in isolation. It does not mean expecting members of marginalized and historically underrepresented groups to perform the emotional labor of teaching their colleagues how to be inclusive. It does not mean simply managing diversity. It does not mean designating the responsibility for inclusion work to younger, seasonal, or contract workers.

Inclusive leadership means respectfully listening to opinions that challenge the norm. It means trusting the wisdom of less senior, less well-paid, or temporary staff. It means setting inclusive design—and not just ADA compliance—as a benchmark. It means making inclusion the business of all involved in the museum’s operations, from the board of trustees to the director and the staff.

Call to action:

Museum boards and leadership can prioritize inclusion in the strategic planning process or through a separate inclusion plan. Museum professionals across functions can share next practices and best-known actions related to DEAI with colleagues.

[1] Global Human Capital Trends 2014: Engaging the 21st Century Workplace, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Bersin by Deloitte, 2014

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