February 14, 2023

The challenges organisations are facing in attracting talent, and building a diverse and inclusive culture is a recurring topic with many clients right now. We know it can be tempting to jump straight into tangibles like policies, training schemes and targets when faced with complex issues like these, but before you do, ask yourself this: Have you made sure your leaders have the core leadership skills they need to drive real culture and behaviour change?

We’re asking more and more of our leaders thanks to our complex, dynamic world. What we do know is that real change happens when organisations spend time putting the foundations of leadership in place: Employees feel engaged, included, and valued and some of the challenges they’re grappling with – including Diversity Inclusion Equality Belonging (DEIB) – become more manageable.

Leaders need to prioritise connecting with and listening to their teams

If attracting and retaining diverse and high-quality talent is a priority, then one thing employers must do is put employees first: Connect, engage and build relationships with them. What our research with LSE ‘Making hybrid work for your organisation’ revealed – and this probably won’t be a surprise – is that in these times of rapid change and complexity, employees value connection, communication and relationships above all.

‘Creating time and space for connection is essential and hybrid team leaders need to be deliberate in building and sustaining relationships inside and outside the team.’

Making hybrid work for your organisation – Findings from LIW-LSE Research into Hybrid Team Performance Drivers

The importance of being present

If employees are asking for connection and relationships, want to feel included and that they belong, it follows that organisations need leaders who can create time and space to do this – and do it well. That means leaders who are present and open to both asking questions and listening to the responses. This takes focus and presence, which isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially in today’s environment. It’s why we recommend organisations spend time focusing on the 4 Practices of Leadership, starting with number 1: Be present.

What are the 4 Practices of Leadership?

Our approach to developing business performance focuses on bringing together the ‘doing’ and ‘being’ of leadership to support a leader’s development.​ We created the 4 Practices of Leadership to underpin this approach. These practices help leaders get beyond their biases, shift habitual ways of thinking and doing things and, in doing so, grow and develop new leadership skills and behaviours. The 4 Practices of Leadership are:

  • Be present
  • Stay curious
  • Make conscious decisions
  • Keep experimenting

Curious to find out more about the 4 Practices of Leadership? Give us a call and we can have a chat.

Being present is about being mindful, bringing your full attention without judgment to what you are doing at any given time. It means removing distractions and focusing on the situation you find yourself in right now. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but it is a skill that can be learned and it’s worth it. Mindfulness has been found to lead to increased emotional intelligence, better communication and an improved ability to manage conflict. Exactly what leaders need right now.

‘Great leadership comes with practice, so how can the leaders in your organisation practice being actively present?’

Andy Chevis, Head of design and research

Try the 60-second challenge

Here’s a simple challenge you can try now. Stop what you’re doing, put your tech out of reach and try this: Can you be present for 60-seconds?


  • How did it feel?
  • How long does it take for random thoughts pop up?

We wouldn’t be surprised if some of you found yourselves instinctively reaching for the phone. We all need help being present right now and leaders are no different. We also need to acknowledge the impact these distractions are having on leaders’ ability to connect and engage with people inside and outside their team.

Focus on upgrading core leadership skills to deliver DEIB and culture change
Equipping leaders with effective leadership skills is where employees and organisations will notice the biggest cultural change. So, before you roll out another initiative make sure you’re supporting your leaders by embedding these core leadership skills too.

We’re LIW and we’ve been running leadership programmes for large organisations in Australia, UK, USA, and across the globe for over 25 years. Our team of more than 80 coaches and facilitators is spread across the world, supported by the best project managers. (We might be biased here)

If you need to upgrade the core leadership skills in your organisation, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you and chat about how we can help.

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