Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to work with many managers, each with a unique leadership style. Each experience provided me with invaluable lessons about the profound impact a leader can have on a team. After all, the employee-to-manager relationship is key for team members to feel safe and valued, bring their best, and experiment with innovative solutions.
Thankfully, these experiences also offered me insights into the vast landscape of leadership and the importance of constant evolution. To be clear, managers who are still learning how to foster inclusion within their teams and have not yet become role models of inclusive leadership have the potential for growth. They are navigating their own leadership journey, learning through trial and error.
This understanding fueled my belief in the power of self-improvement and continuous learning as a leader. The lessons learned from less-than-ideal experiences have underscored for me the significant influence inclusive, caring leaders can have on their teams and, consequently, on business outcomes.
At Schneider Electric, our leaders set the tone and exemplify our culture. While each leader has unique strengths and skills, all are expected to deliver on both the “what” (impact) and the “how” (values and behaviors), in alignment with our Trust Charter and company values. Both the results they deliver and the behaviors they engage in to deliver those results matter. Those results matter when building an inclusive and caring work environment.
Why does inclusive leadership matter for Schneider Electric?
As we transform our organization to prepare the workforce of the future, inclusive leadership is a top people strategy and business priority. Building the best teams that deliver high performance sustainably requires managers of all levels to embrace different perspectives, address bias, lead with empathy and respect, and empower others so all employees feel uniquely valued and safe to contribute their best.
Schneider Electric’s ambition is nothing short of becoming the world’s most inclusive and caring company. We aim to create a space where all employees feel valued and safe to contribute their best. To achieve this, we are pioneering a novel approach to leadership development through our North America Inclusion for Impact Program.
This Program was born out of need. We noticed that traditional leadership models did not equip our managers with the skills to support our company’s ambitious business growth goals in the evolving world of work. We needed to rethink the role our people have in delivering on our company’s growth ambitions and concluded that inclusive leaders are essential in building these high-performing, diverse teams with the right talent to grow our business.
Simultaneously, we also aspired to offer a program that would support managers as their roles continue to evolve. Such training would enable an open dialogue to understand the unique challenges they face.
How do you teach inclusive leadership?
Our vision is to create a mindset shift across the organization that promotes flexibility and skills-focused growth, attracting diverse talent to close the skills gap. We aim to lay a foundation for further exploration of programs that would bolster diversity, meeting the needs of our business while ensuring an inclusive company culture.
Therefore, we launched an Inclusion for Impact Program in North America with an external partner. The result is a comprehensive solution that combines individual coaching, leadership workshops, gamified simulations, and self-paced e-learning assignments. Ultimately, this training equips leaders with the skills to lead with empathy and trust.
Company growth requires growing as leaders
Our goal is not just to equip our managers with a new set of skills. We intend to catalyze a transformation in our organizational culture. By fostering inclusive leadership, we believe we will improve individual and team performance and our business forward. The program will result in leaders who can attract, motivate, and retain diverse talent.
We believe delivering impact through inclusion is an opportunity to grow personally and professionally, to cultivate teams where everyone can thrive and innovate, and ultimately, to contribute to our ambitious business goals. After all, the essence of leadership lies in the continuous pursuit of growth and betterment — for us, our teams, and our company.
About the author
Shalin Kothari – Vice President of People and DEI Strategy, Schneider Electric North America
Shalin Kothari brings to his role a deep passion for social and environmental sustainability. His dedication to sustainability aligns seamlessly with the ethos of Schneider Electric. A valued member of the Schneider team for over 25 years, Shalin has made significant contributions in various HR and Finance roles, both in the US, NAM, EAJ, and globally. Notably, his key projects include bridging the global pay equity gap, developing an inclusive leadership program (aka Inclusion for Impact), curating a comprehensive sustainability offer for employees, and promoting greater intersectionality among Employee Resource Networks (ERNs). Shalin holds a BBA with a Finance Major from Loyola and a Masters in Computer Information Systems from Northwestern University.