Unity In The Midst Of Uniqueness

Regardless of your political leanings, the US election last week resulted in some noteworthy firsts. Included, of course, is Kamala Harris, who became the first woman to be elected Vice-President, as well as the first Black person and first person of South Asian descent to be elected as Vice-President. (You may be surprised to learn – as I was – that she is not, as some have claimed, the first person of color to be elected to that role – Charles Curtis, VP to Herbert Hoover from 1929-1933 and a member of the Kaw Nation, holds that title.)

The common post-election theme this year, of course, as it has often been after previous elections, is unity. But in such a divided country, how is this possible? How can leaders find unity when the people they lead hold diverse and differing views and experiences? How can you – with your team – find ways to move forward with a unified vision while still including and honoring the diverse range of individuals who make up the whole?

This Week’s Tips:

Consider the SELF/TEAM behaviors exhibited by “inclusifying” leaders. Stefanie K. Johnson’s book Inclusify: The Power of Uniqueness and Belonging to Build Innovative Teams notes a number of concepts that leaders can explore to encourage uniqueness and to create belongingness. In brief:

To encourage uniqueness, explore SELF:

  • Support: Recognize and embrace the differences in your team members.
  • Empathize: Get to know the people on your team and begin to understand their needs.
  • Learn: Seek out unique perspectives and diverging opinions.
  • (Be) Fair: Aim not for equality, but equity: giving people what they need to succeed.

To create belongingness, explore TEAM:

  • (Be) Transparent: Be open about how you do things and look for feedback.
  • Empower: Look for your team members to make their own decisions and include their input in yours.
  • Align: Look for common ground to rally around. If it’s not obvious, look deeper at shared core concerns.
  • Motivate: Build spirit around your core values and celebrate your achievements and your firsts.

Explore the concepts of SELF and TEAM this week, and let us know how it goes in our Facebook group. We’d love to hear from you!

Published by Ian Jackson

Ian Jackson is the founder of Building Bridges Leadership, which works with individuals, teams, and organizations to create authentic community in the workplace. He also writes children's fiction and teaches creative writing.

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