One of the greatest challenges, and opportunities, on any team is to create synergy among team members with different backgrounds, styles, and preferences. Organizations that miss the mark on this often end up either enduring their diversity in hopes that someday it will work for them, rather than against them, or deliberately or subconsciously opting to create a homogeneous team where conflict does not exist. Unfortunately, both of these options rob the team of the synergy and the ensuing extraordinary results that could come from people of different talents and backgrounds working in concert.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! …It is also that time of the year when you might be reflecting on what you don’t have, and what you haven’t been doing right, and you’re likely feeling compelled to close the gap between where you are and where you think you ought to be by making new year’s resolutions. (I speak from personal experience). Most of us don’t even remember what resolutions we made this time last year, probably because we haven’t thought about them for over 11 months! You could argue the statistics but I tend to believe that, by far, most resolutions are broken and forgotten about in about 14 days.
“Can you say thank you?!” You probably remember hearing those words as a kid when someone gave you something, or did something nice for you. It is, of course, good manners to utter those words to express our gratitude, and most of us still do, as a polite response to acts of courtesy, respect, or kindness. Unfortunately though, the ritual of expressing thanks has lost much of its meaning and impact as we have come to practice it mindlessly, just as we do with many other routine conversations like asking, “How are you?” without genuinely wanting to know the state of the other person’s well-being.
This week’s post is in response to the violence that occurred in Lebanon, France, and Kenya over the past week, and the ensuing comments and debates on social media. This topic may appear to be a departure from my typical focus on leadership, but it speaks to the very essence of why so many organizations are so dysfunctional and unproductive.
I found out about the terrorist attacks in Paris as I landed at the Atlanta airport on Friday night. As I scrolled down my twitter feed on the train, the thought of so many lives having been lost and the unthinkable violence literally brought tears to my eyes. It wasn’t until the next morning, after I had expressed my empathy and solidarity with Paris on social media, that I realized that I had shown virtually no reaction to similar atrocities that were committed just days earlier in Beirut. I was painfully reminded that as much as I preach a message of oneness, I am, and always will be, subject to my own biases. It is not something I am proud of, mind you, but what is the sense in hiding my hypocrisy as it must be obvious to everyone else just as the hypocrisy in other people’s commentary on social media is obvious to me.
Yesterday, I had the honor and privilege of attending the Worker Voice Summit, hosted by President Barack Obama at the White House. The core intent of the summit, ensuring that workers have a voice in the workplace, deeply resonated with what I have made my personal and professional mission for the past several years and I was delighted to see such emphasis put on this important topic at the national level by the administration, as well as stakeholders from all sectors. I’d like to share my perspective on what resonated with me the most, namely the need for managers and leaders of organizations to develop an inclusive mindset and recognize that treating people fairly and giving them the opportunity to shape their destiny is good for all parties involved.