Inclusive Leadership by Design: The 6 Traits of Inclusive Change Makers

When we explore traditional public perceptions of leadership in the world of work, this is most often defined as white and male. This is because we have unconscious biases around what leadership is and should be, Vercida Director, Dan Robertson, explains. After tracking dominant forms of leadership around the world, Dan shares some key attributes that should define inclusive and positive leaders:


  • Our fundamental concepts of leadership are ingrained with gender stereotypes. We judge male and female leaders differently based on what our perception of leadership is (The Double Bind notion).

- While a male leader who grows in competence will be seen as ambitious and influential, a female leader in the same situation can be perceived as bossy, aggressive and overambitious.

  • Dan drew attention to 2 common examples of toxic leaders in the workplace: psychopathic leadership (with low levels of empathy, high levels of aggression, self-worth and overconfidence) and zombie leadership (influenced by dead ideas, prefer sameness, suck the energy and passion out of colleagues).

- If we want more fairness and equity within our systems, we need to review our notions of leadership and address stereotypes.

  • Inclusive leaders create a sense of belonging and psychological safety for all employees. They are described by the following 6 fundamental traits:

- inspire: they create vision, energy and passion in followers for an inclusive culture.

- integrity: they align behaviours with stated values, speak up and challenge when things are not fair.

- insight: they are aware of personal drivers, motivations and biases, as well as those of their colleagues.

- inquisitive: they are curious about difference, they show up and support diversity related events.

- individuate: they are driven by passion to walk in the shoes of others.

- invest in others through sponsorship and amplification.


Organisations who have adopted these principles of inclusive leadership have started seeing positive impact in employee engagement and motivation, which have led to high performance and innovation in the workplace. “These will be the survivors in a world dominated by identity politics,” Dan concludes.

Read our Q&A with Dan here.

View Dan Robertson's presentation


Dan Robertson, Director, Vercida Consulting

"Inclusive Leadership by Design: The 6 traits of inclusive change makers"