Unity in diversity – moving beyond separation
Today more than ever we are called upon to seek unity and wholeness in the way we lead whilst honouring the rich diversity that exists within our teams. Thriving in our complex and fast changing world means we must find ways to recognise and harness the qualities and quality that surrounds us.
Sadly, most of us are conditioned by a lot of separative thinking. Not because we are bad people generally but because we are immersed in often invisible and unconscious influences that create our world view. This can be in all the obvious ways related to the more legal or corporate expression of diversity and the protected characteristics – colour, race, religion, gender etc. And it can also be in less obvious ways such as industry jargon, patterns of thinking, in-jokes and so on. Thankfully, many organisations are starting to explore diversity and inclusion from this holistic perspective which is an encouraging sign providing it comes from a place of true belief and not tick box/me too mentality.
By way of example, when was the last time you started a job in a new business? In this situation we can be confronted very quickly with all the subtle and not so subtle ways in which we are ‘not (yet) like the others’. And our drive for belonging often means that we work hard to find ways to fit in and belong. To learn the language, to find the ways in which the collective thinks – especially the more senior collective.
What if, however, as leaders, we were focused on creating an environment and culture where everyone could feel ‘at home’. Where diversity of thinking and experience truly was acceptable and indeed valued. Where the striving for a ‘common language’ and ways of communicating came more through the heart and less through the intellect or the rational brain.
When we communicate through the heart we connect with the other person on another level – we hear them differently, we see them differently. We find a new level of relationship that includes diversity and difference because we can truly see a richness and a wonder in that. Sure, it can take a bit longer at first as we each take the time to suspend our filters and separative needs. The payback though comes as we each walk away from such an encounter feeling taller and more valued. And chances are that we will also feel empowered to release new levels of creativity – almost a spontaneous response if you will. Creativity that not only benefits the organisation but enhances our sense of well-being and satisfaction too.
So striving for unity and diversity as a mantra for new leadership could be the recipe for new and unparalleled creativity and well-being in our organisations and our world.