Leadership team around conference table hosting effective, inclusive conversations

Leadership Toolkit

Courageous Leadership: Hosting Effective, Inclusive Conversations

As the world and our workplaces grow in complexity, our need to connect across differences and be inclusive of varying perspectives and experiences increases. It might seem as though discussions across differences are a normal and relatively easy action to accomplish — especially for groups who are accustomed to working together. However, 85 percent of the workforce report that workplace conflict is the norm in their respective professional spaces, often as a result of differences in perspectives, experiences, values, and perceived power. You may strive to lead effective and inclusive conversations about topics ranging from establishing standards of practice in emerging virtual work environments to examining discrimination in hiring practices. This toolkit is designed to support you in bridging the gap of communication and effectively facilitating these challenging conversations.

Inclusion is not bringing people into what already exists; it is making a new space, a better space for everyone.

George Dei


This toolkit is divided into two sections, providing practical resources to help leaders and teams self-assess, plan for and host inclusive conversations:

Section 1

Assess and Achieve Readiness

Step 1: How Ready Are You?
Step 2: How Ready Are Potential Participants?/p>

Section 2

A Model for Inclusive Conversations

Step 3: Approach the Conversation
Step 4: Make Space and Place for the Conversation
Step 5: Follow Up With Action

This toolkit includes:

Tool 1: How Ready Are You?
Tool 1 offers you a helpful template for considering your readiness. Your answers will reflect both emotional and rational responses.

Tool 2: How Ready is Your Team?
Tool 2 is a helpful template for considering team readiness. You might engage other leaders to reflect with you as you complete Tool 2.

Tool 3: Readying an Individual for the Conversation
Based on the themes that surface from the environmental scan, use Tool 3 to ask questions intentionally with individuals who may “come to the table” with a specific issue or agenda.

Tool 4: Inclusive Conversation Agenda
Consider the agenda template in Tool 4 to support your integration of a norms discussion at the beginning of the conversation.

Tool 5: Stoplight Report
To ensure that follow-up becomes follow-through, a stoplight report can assign responsibilities and ensure accountability for actions by individuals who are working toward achieving trust and team outcomes. Tool 5 is a template for this report.

This toolkit provides practical resources to help leaders and teams self-assess, plan for and host inclusive conversations. Inclusive conversations require approaching discussion in such a way that everyone understands the why of the topic; everyone feels safe physically and psychologically to contribute in authentic and truthful ways; and everyone knows that seeing beyond self to seek to understand the point of view of others is important. Developing the right mindset as a leader with and for your team regarding inclusive conversations is not a one-and-done project. The promising news is that the steps in this toolkit can be used to host conversations about any number of topics.

Download This Toolkit


To support leaders and teams, we also have other toolkits that provide additional resources to complement those outlined in this toolkit.


Start typing and press Enter to search

A woman speaking with her colleagues to spark and sustain change, gathering inputTeachers meeting - Education Leaders working together on effective communication