Employees don’t perform at their highest cognitive levels when they believe there is a price to being who they are because their leaders can’t be trusted to build inclusive cultures. They continue to function from a place of fear, trauma, and threat. If managers want to build an environment that fosters original thinking and optimal performance, they need to create psychological safety.

Author Timothy Clark explained in his book, “Psychological Safety: Defining the Path to Inclusion and Innovation,” that when employees are encouraged to be themselves, learn, and contribute, they are more likely to challenge the status quo and push the team toward better solutions.

Employees are motivated to contribute their knowledge, skill sets, and expertise to the team and the business when they believe their ideas are valued. When an organizational culture values the opinions of only a few team members, other employees become disengaged. A competent manager should understand and operate his teams with inclusion and safety in mind, valuing the opinions of all team members. Employees feel truly valued and welcomed in such a culture. They are encouraged to learn and grow to their full potential in an inclusive culture.

Management should keep in mind when implementing an inclusive culture that employees should not feel like inclusion is a privilege. All employees in organizations that value innovation should have the right to inclusive team culture. When employees feel that inclusion is a privilege that must be earned, office politics emerge, and several bright minds are discouraged from sharing their knowledge and expertise.

Another important component of fostering an inclusive workplace culture is trust. When leaders and team members trust each other, employees feel safe to learn, contribute, and debate. Having lived and worked in organizations where the culture is centered on building individual success and competitiveness, I am amazed by the power of having a team that shares common goals. Creating an inclusive culture is a shared responsibility that every team member needs to own and must be the result of a conscious effort by leaders. Mutual respect, trust, and an inclusive culture that pushes the boundaries of traditional thinking are the foundations for innovation.

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