I have had my share of cross-cultural experiences. I grew up in Iran, moved to the U.S. on my own when I was 16, and have lived and worked in a few places in the U.S., Europe, and Southeast Asia since then, and I have been married to a person of a different race and ethnicity than my own for over 35 years. If there is one thing I have learned during my extensive travels, it is that deep down, we are all the same. As the saying goes, “What’s most personal is most general.” There are tons of similarities between us, regardless of our nationality, religion, race, political persuasion, socio-economic background, sexual orientation, etc. There are also tons of superficial differences between us that really do matter and should not be ignored. The fact is, however, that all these differences between us are only meaningful precisely because they are situated within the context of an underlying unity that we all share. My experience is that understanding and accepting our sameness is the pre-requisite for sustainably and genuinely valuing and celebrating—not just tolerating—our differences.
How would you like for your workplace to be a source of inspiration? Imagine that! For most of us, it’s a foreign concept and perhaps a bit naïve, even absurd, to think that the workplace could be a source of inspiration for employees. We live in a world where most—though not all—workplaces have been relegated to being sources of stress and agony. Our work is often seen as a necessary evil that we must put up with simply because we need to make a living; a place we go to trade our vitality and energy for a paycheck and then go home frustrated and kick the dog. There are, of course, those workplaces that buck this trend, but the truth is most workplaces wouldn’t qualify as a “source of inspiration” by any means.
How would you rate the level of accountability in your organization? How about your own personal accountability?
Many organizations that suffer from poor results and low morale attribute their inability to make sustainable improvements to lack of accountability in the organization. When I ask teams to rate the level of accountability in their organization on a scale of 0-10—10 being a state where every individual feels and acts completely in an accountable manner—I generally get a rating between 4 and 6. When asked to rate their own personal accountability, individuals on the same team generally respond with a rating of 7-9. In other words, the thinking goes, “If everybody else were as accountable as I am, the world would be a great place.” This, of course, is normal. As I have mentioned before, our natural tendency is to judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior. But where do we go from here? How can we shift the level of accountability in the organization to 9-10?