How to be an inclusive leader in higher education

Jessica Schiltmans, Dan Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To make optimum use of the talents of all groups in society and have all voices heard in the transformations higher education is facing, inclusive leadership is gaining ground as a preferred leadership style (Stefani & Blessinger, 2017; Ferdman et al., 2020). This article reviews the literature on inclusive leadership and considers how it can be used to transform higher education institutions (HEIs) in the light of some of the ‘megatrends’ they face. The main suggestions that flow from this literature review are, firstly, to integrate conceptualisations of inclusive leadership with research on inclusive behaviour by followers and, secondly, to develop strategies that apply inclusive leadership to its multifaceted purposes, rather than mainly to the fostering of inclusive work groups. An integration of theories on inclusive leadership with research on fostering democracy, facilitating inclusive learning environments and stimulating inclusive societies reveals insights into how these concepts are related and what is expected of a leader, not only with respect to leading diverse teams but also with regards to how this is relevant in pursuing inclusion in the broader context of HEIs and in society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-20
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Higher Education Policy and Leadership Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.


  • Diversity
  • Equity
  • Higher Education
  • Inclusion
  • Inclusive Leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration
  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Strategy and Management


Dive into the research topics of 'How to be an inclusive leader in higher education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this