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How to be a great ERG leader

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are vital to fostering an inclusive workplace culture. As an ERG leader, you play a crucial role in driving this mission forward. Here are key traits and practical ways to develop your leadership skills to excel in this role and support your career development.

Key traits of a great ERG leader

1. Empathy and inclusion

Successful ERG leaders understand and respect diverse perspectives. This fosters an inclusive environment where all members feel valued and heard. This can be an important factor in motivating and engaging volunteers and recruiting new members.


2. Strong communication skills

Effective communication is essential to leading a thriving ERG. This involves not only speaking clearly and persuasively but also actively listening to others. Being able to articulate the ERG’s vision, goals and progress to both your members and your executive sponsor (as well as other key stakeholders) is an important skill and one of the most impactful roles of an ERG leader.

3. Strategic vision

Great ERG leaders should have a clear understanding of how their group's activities align with the broader company objectives and culture, and can articulate this to the group in order to lead its efforts and set objectives. 

4. Adaptability

The workplace is constantly evolving. Being flexible and open to change helps ERG leaders navigate new challenges and seize opportunities. This is particularly true in today’s diverse working landscape, where many employees may be fully remote, hybrid, or in office full-time.

5. Commitment to professional development

ERG leaders should be committed to their personal and professional growth, and to the development of their members. This includes seeking out opportunities to learn about emerging trends and leading practices to support the ERG’s goals and strategy.

Practical ways to develop leadership skills

1. Seek Mentorship

Engage with mentors who have experience in ERG leadership or similar leadership roles. They can provide guidance, support, and insights to help you grow as a leader and professional.

2. Participate in training programs

Take advantage of leadership development programs offered by your employer or seek out external opportunities, such as conferences or seminars.

3. Volunteer for leadership roles

Within or outside your ERG, volunteer for projects that require you to leverage or expand leadership skills. For example, volunteer to lead a team meeting or organize a team building exercise. While it may seem small, these experiences can go a long way toward helping you showcase your leadership skills.

4. Set measurable goals

Establish clear, measurable goals for your ERG. Track progress, document outcomes, and celebrate successes. This demonstrates your ability to develop, lead, and achieve tangible outcomes, which is a key component of effective leadership at any level.  

5. Network actively

Build a network of peers and leaders in other ERGs. Sharing experiences and strategies can provide new insights and foster collaborative efforts. Ergtopia’s ERG Advisory Board and ERG Community are both great ways for ERG leaders to connect and work collaboratively on shared challenges while broadening their own networks. 

6. Solicit feedback

Regularly seek feedback from your group members and other stakeholders, such as your executive sponsor and co-leaders (if applicable). Learning how to accept constructive feedback in order to adapt your leadership style to the needs of your team is a critical success factor for leaders at all levels. 

Being an effective ERG leader not only enhances your professional reputation but also contributes significantly to your personal career development. By cultivating these key traits and engaging in continuous learning, you can lead your ERG to success and inspire positive change within your organization.

Ian Waltman
Jul 4, 2024

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