The Importance of Embracing Inclusive Leadership

by Amrit & Loralyn


Listen more than you talk. You’ve got two ears and one mouth – listen up! And you’ve got two eyes. Use them to observe. Watch for whatever it is that you’re not hearing.

The contemporary world is being jolted from multiple sides – and all at once. First, there was the Covid-19 outbreak that confined the entire world indoors. Perhaps it has forever altered how we work.

The Impact of Recent World Events on Employees

Since the coronavirus made its spikey little self omnipresent in our lives, there has been war, inflation, unemployment, the appearance of Monkeypox with its potential as another pandemic, gun violence, catastrophic impact on families, the Great Resignation, and rising gas prices. Those are just the first few calamitous events that came to mind. They have one thing in common – they are all wreaking havoc with people’s lives.

Don’t think, even for a single moment, that your employees aren’t bringing the weight of all this into the office. Remote or in-person, the collective burden of the recent events of the world and the uncertainty surrounding their jobs are heavy. And they’re affecting the mental health of nearly everyone. Recent studies suggest that 20% of adults (that’s 1 in 5 or roughly about 50 million Americans) are experiencing some form of mental health distress: for 5% of the adult population, their mental illness is severe.

Your employees cannot remain untouched by these worldly events. These events disturb them mentally, exhaust them intellectually, isolate them socially, and strain them financially. Consequently, their work performance and productivity may have begun to deteriorate. Perhaps you or their co-workers have noticed this.

Many bosses and leaders, unfortunately, remain oblivious to the hardships their employees are going through. You can blame it on indifference, working remotely, or being overwhelmed by the volume of work on their plates in the wake of the Great Resignation. Or maybe you’ve started thinking that it’s you and people have convinced you that you have a tendency to jump to conclusions – perish the thought!

The Effects of Remote Work on Communication

With many of us WFH most of the time or full-time, we’ve lost some of our ability to assess how others around us are feeling. In the name of efficiency, we’ve culled social interaction – and we’ve possibly culled it too much. In fact, with WFH, we are communicating 25% less than we did even a year ago. So, you may be thinking, “Fabulous! Communicating less means that I am being interrupted less often and there is a reduced likelihood of having my or my co-workers’ cryptic texts and emojis being misunderstood.” However, this reduced communication may also impact our understanding of others’ emotions and hinder our development of essential communication skills.

Not exactly …

For that matter, even employees at leadership levels are becoming increasingly disenchanted and making their feelings known – with their feet – by exiting from the company stage left. The Great Resignation doesn’t just involve employees in junior roles; everybody who feels underappreciated, at every organizational level, leaves as soon as they get the chance to do so. A sense of burnout is all pervasive. Some people aren’t leaving but they are “laying flat” or “quiet quitting” which means they’re still drawing a paycheck but they’re doing the bare minimum (or even less) to stay employed as long as they can before their low productivity gets noticed.

The Challenges of Employee Training and Onboarding

Replacing employees can be costly. It also requires training the new hires from scratch so that they can reach the same performance level that was reached by your previous (or existing) employees. But that ushers in new challenges. People are already burnt out, overwhelmed, overworked, and underappreciated. Expecting that your first-line managers will have the time, skills, and interest in employee training, mentoring, plus supporting the newbies and their professional development borders more on fantasy than it does on reality.

There are increasingly few bodies left in the office with the skills and time needed to properly onboard, inspire, and motivate the newbies long enough to learn. And stick with it.

With an overwhelming sense of dissatisfaction across organizations, there is still a chance that you will find a new employee with a positive attitude. Of course, you’ll have to work through the $6,000 average recruiting cost, 20% higher salary versus this time last year, and nearly 50% ghosting rates. Hence, instead of replacing your employees, you need to consider working more closely with your existing employees. Spend the time that it takes to understand why they are so overwhelmed, stressed, and demotivated.


What is conscious leadership?

Conscious leadership is the ability to be fully aware of what is going on with your employees, understanding their problems and issues, and helping them cope with them so that they can give their best to your organization. Defined colloquially, it’s being dialed-in to how your employees feel.

Being a conscious leader means empathizing with whatever it is that your employees are going through. Long gone are the days when a job was considered a necessity for livelihood. Yes, the job is still important, and so is livelihood, but with abundant options available to the employees and with 24 x 7 connectivity through social media, side-hustles are increasingly becoming main lines. With salary transparency and revelations on TikTok, it’s pretty easy to figure out who’s earning what and who’s working for a shitty boss or employer. Also, it is pretty darn easy for other organizations to reach out to your employees and poach them with better offers and promises to prevent XYZ from happening – which is all over social media so, it’s pretty easy to figure out if your staff is happy. Or not. Active listening is crucial to understanding their concerns and needs.

Even if your employees are not poached and they ultimately decide to stay with you, they’ve been awakened. Suddenly the idea of leaving for something better has become implanted. These ideas of moving away or feelings of disenchantment are constantly seeded through various stimulants. This affects their productivity. It wreaks havoc with their attitude. They feel constantly drained and stressed. It becomes difficult to perform in such a state of mind and unfavorable environment.

And we all know how one bad apple spoils the lot. So, it begins, a toxic workplace culture.

But take heart. As a conscious leader you can change things. Your office culture doesn’t have to go south under your watch – if you don’t want it to.

There needs to be a two-pronged approach because even leaders and bosses are checked out, stressed, and out-of-focus, perhaps even equally so with their staff. At least in some instances. Hence, to be a conscious leader, you need to be conscious about yourself, and the people working under you. Listed below are a few steps you can take. It all begins with self-awareness. Indeed, a soft skill in of itself.

Dial-up your empathy

What are your employees going through? What is in their minds when they are working from home or even when they come to office? Has COVID left a lasting impact on them? Are they feeling financially insecure? Do they feel socially isolated? Are they constantly worrying about the state of the world? Do they feel less appreciated?

Many leaders wrongly think that personal problems and professional commitments must be kept separate. Humans are not robots. The same brain that worries about the world also functions at your workplace. There are no switch on-off modes. Some can manage, most cannot. You need to learn to empathize. You need to accept that almost all personal problems segue into professional commitments. How would you feel if you are buffeted by all sorts of problems and despite that, you are expected to give your best?

Learn to listen

Most leaders have this tendency to listen less and speak more. They love the sound of their own voice. This makes many of them incapable of listening to what the other person is going through.

It is not that the skill of listening more and speaking less is inherent and hence, it cannot be later developed. Through training, professional development and sensitization, any leader can become conscious and learn to listen. More importantly, learn not just to listen, but learn to understand through empathy. STEERus provides such training to leaders and managers empowering them with the tools and techniques to enhance their active listening skills. Check us out!

Exercise patience and control

It takes patience and self-control to step into the shoes of the other and look at the problems from another person’s perspective. This doesn’t mean pry and ask questions until your staff members begin to cry. Know when to hold up.

Some employees may be slower than others. Some may require more time to understand your intentions: are they nefarious? Are you probing to find a crack in the ointment so that you can terminate them? Trust has been lost with COVID and WFH. Some staff members may need extra tools to perform their jobs. You need to accommodate them. For that you need patience to hear them, observe them, and understand them.

Many workplace battles are futile. You need to learn to let go. You cannot strive to constantly change employees. You need to nurture the ones that you have – the ones who want to change. You need to allow them to blossom. You need to be sensitive towards their need to learn and adapt. Some may simply not be ready for you as a newly emerged conscious leader. Baby steps … patience, grasshopper!

Choose your words wisely

Are you unknowingly invalidating the concerns of your employees by using expressions like “all this mental health crap” and “stress nonsense?” Consider rephrasing how you frame and talk about emotional well-being.

By using such language, you are making the environment unsafe for those who want to be open about the psychological problems they are going through. Psychological problems, no matter how far-fetched they seem to you, can sometimes be as serious as physical problems. Even if you are currently not in a position to understand the other person’s perspective, proper training can help you develop a mindset that is more receptive to people’s opinions. And how to navigate their reactions without your own bias or lack of finesse. Through training, you can learn to avoid expressions and words that discount workplace worries and psychological problems and foster feelings of an unsafe culture.

Fortunately, sensitization training is available. Through conscious leadership training, you can develop compassion, learn to be patient, improve your understanding, enhance your interpersonal skills, and learn other soft skills that will transform you from a person holding a job title to a leader – regardless of what level you are employed at within the company.

Conscious leadership: embrace it. Own it.



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