What Are An Inclusive Leader’s Most Important Qualities?

What would you consider the most important attributes for an effective leader? Often, it will be strength, confidence, decisiveness and other powerful qualities. But, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic,  Professor of Business Psychology at UCL and Colombia University, argues that it is the often over-looked traits of curiosity, humility and courage that are vital for a leader to be truly inclusive.

Much has been written about the necessity for a ‘culture of inclusion’. In order to attract and retain the best possible people for an organisation, openness to a diversity of backgrounds, skillsets, values and beliefs is essential. That attitude and expectation has to be defined from the top. Leadership is key to building a diverse and inclusive culture.

In his article outlining the three key attributes for an inclusive leader, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic points to scientific research to reinforce his argument.


Chamorro-Premuzic believes that curiosity is the most instrumental quality to enable a leader to create an inclusive culture. Curious leaders will be more empathic and interested in people, keen to hear their opinions and thoughts. They will be more open to employing people who are different from themselves too. It has an impact on the entire workplace culture. Chamorro-Premuzic says, “When you are led by a person with a hungry mind, you are more likely to behave in open-minded and curious ways yourself.” A culture that promotes questioning and empathy can only be good for diversity.


Not a trait often associated with leadership, humility allows a person to recognise their own limitations and, subsequently, empower others to step up in those areas. They require people with a range of backgrounds, strengths and traits to work alongside them. This is a stark contrast to the notorious, arrogant and self-centred boss who is far less likely to be concerned about attracting a diverse team for his (or her) organisation.


“While curious and humble leaders will be better equipped to create a culture of inclusivity, they will also need courage to pursue this goal” according to Chamorro-Premuzic. Leaders need to drive change and encourage their team to embrace it. Instigating change and causing disruption can be unpopular, with many employees being fearful and resistant to breaking from their current norm. But change and questioning are necessary to move forward. In Chamorro-Premuzic’s words, “unless we have courageous leaders who are genuinely committed to fighting for change, leadership will just remain a political activity where the concentration of power remains static.”

Leaders with levels of curiosity and humility will be able to communicate the benefits of change to their employees better. Equipped with empathy and having considered the opinions of people around them, they will have a better understanding of the team climate which will inform their decision-making and define the future of the organisation.

Zac's Challenges:

Zac’s tech business is growing rapidly. He’s gone from being a developer with a good idea to now overseeing an ever-expanding team. Zac knows that in order for the business to grow successfully, it needs to stay true to its founding values and his staff need to feel valued and engaged. Zac wants to understand if he and his team are on the same page and he needs to do it quickly and cost effectively.

Zac's PCS Solution

Zac decides to use PCS Lite to get a quick temperature check of how his team are performing and what they think about the business. The PCS Lite report quickly surfaces the fact that his team have lost sight of the organisation’s purpose and goals. Zac realises that he needs to improve his on-boarding processes and help orientate the new team members better in the company culture and vision. 6 months later, Zac uses PCS Lite to check his new onboarding process is working; concludes that the growing team are much better aligned to his vision and are generally operating in a more positive working environment.

Annabel's Challenges:

It’s Annabel’s job to help the Partners in the firm manage their clients and ensure they’re consistently adding value. Recently, Annabel has been asked by one of the Partners to find a tool or framework that the consultants can use to benchmark new clients looking for team and leadership improvement programmes. It needs to be cost-effective, established and reputable and able to be branded with the firm’s own logo.

Annabel's PCS Solution

Annabel recommends PCS Pro to the Senior Partners as it provides an objective measurement of team and leadership climate against which the consultants can build performance improvement programmes. PCS has a good track record, academic validation, excellent training and customer service, so she’s confident that it’s the right tool for the firm’s consultants to use.

Sarah's Challenges:

Sarah has to keep across the multiple training and development needs in the organisation and do it within a tight budget. Recently, Sarah’s been asked to design a L&D programme that improves the staff retention rate and helps staff feel more engaged with the changes happening in the organisation, not least the shift to more flexible working.

Sarah's PCS Solution

Sarah uses PCS to measure how different teams across the organisation are performing and look at any patterns which suggest the need for organisation-wide, leader or team training. Sarah notices that all teams and leaders have a low climate score in the Processes segment. Sarah knows that allocating budget in this area will improve performance. She works with the Senior Management Team to review the organisation’s processes as they transition to more flexible working and designs a training programme to support staff in the transition. She’s helped staff to feel supported, acknowledged and engaged which ultimately drives performance. 

Jim's Challenges:

Jim’s client has a team that’s not performing as well other teams in the organisation. The team has a high staff turnover, sickness and the lack of cohesion is impacting the team’s wellbeing and performance. Jim needs to get to the bottom of why this is happening and design effective coaching interventions which can generate tangible results for his client.

Jim's PCS Solution

Jim uses PCS Pro to measure / benchmark how the team and leader are performing across the 6 segments critical to team performance – Goals, Roles, Processes, Adaptability, Connection and Resilience. He can immediately see the disparity in Goals, Processes and Connection between the leader’s perception and those of her team. He uses this information to build a coaching programme designed align team and leader. After 6 months, the team seems to be more settled and productive. Jim remeasures using PCS Pro – the results show the client the effectiveness of his coaching intervention.