Dear SOTGC community,
For years we’ve been assuming that if we excel at what we do, and stand out with our talents, we’ll be rewarded with leadership roles. But today that’s only half true.
Today we know that individuals with outrageous talent don’t make the difference in terms of group achievement. Getting along does.
Research has proven that:
- Diversity and inclusion, when used together, improve innovation by 80%
- Groups with women and high levels of sensitivity outrank groups with talent “stars” in productivity and creativity.
If collective intelligence produces more results than individual talent alone, then how does that change our professional development plan? How do become more valuable?
Today’s world calls on us all of us to become leaders by mastering the art of collaboration. Sensitivity is an asset, yet the skills required for this go beyond our ability to be nice and give support. For example:
- How do you bring out the best in someone you have nothing in common with, or don’t even like?
- How do you let go of your own need to stand out in order to become better at co-creating?
- How do you trust that you’re in good hands when deciding to be real with people who are different from you?
- How do you trust that your efforts to include someone you can’t relate to will pay off?
In my opinion, the learning ahead for us as individuals and organizations is profound. It holds new possibilities, which may excite us at some points, and intimidate us at others.
We have the opportunity to start adapting now for what’s ahead, by developing skills that our future will call on.
In order to prepare your capacity to be a leader of tomorrow, consider the possibility that leading with true diversity and inclusivity call for at least four things we rarely speak about in the workplace:
- Emotional risk-taking.
Fully embracing diversity and inclusivity requires changing the way we see one another. We don’t just have equal rights, we are equals. This means we place equal value on the ideas of others, leaning into curiosity to live beyond our biases.
Creating value in this world involves emotional risk. We must be honest and vulnerable to form authentic relationships for the sake of group success. This means everyone has a personal stake in the game. No one gets to be invulnerable. No one gets to be better than. Everyone risks, for the sake of the collective.
Our big opportunity is to become more skilled at creating broader, more meaningful human connection- the kind that makes us stronger together and more fulfilled not only as people but as a society. It’s hard to deny that our country is calling on us to learn these lessons.
Consider: How comfortable are you with being vulnerable in the workplace? How do create connection and trust with your collaborators?
- Embracing the word love.
In order for everyone to risk, there must be psychological safety. Safety isn’t avoiding conflict, or holding back from saying what we really think or feel. Safety is relationship security that expands our ability to say what we really think or feel.
We create safety by taking responsibility for our impact. Consider the difference between expressing criticism with the intent to take someone down because you’re having a fear reaction, and expressing criticism out of wanting better for the speaker, or the group as a whole. Criticism can annihilate safety and silence a room (stopping progress), or it can create the kind of disruption that inspires everyone to engage deeper.
We are biologically motivated to be a part of a tribe, which means when we feel loved, our systems relax and our faculties are freed up for higher thinking. Love isn’t a skill we list on our professional resume, but it’s one of the most important leadership skills we have.
Consider: How do you practice connecting to your most heart-based intentions? What’s your guiding purpose behind how you choose to work with others?
- Braving loss.
The truth about any change is that when we bring in the new, we lose what it replaces. This is true even with the most positive changes of our life (consider the loss that comes with the gifts of parenthood, for example).
We may not be ready for change. For some of us, change may require us to alter the way we think. We may no longer have the choice to lean on old habits.
In order to stay on the creating end of change (rather than the reacting end), we need to brave the necessary losses. Loss of old ways, comforts, habits. Loss of sameness, fitting in. To meet the future, we need enough ego stability to challenge our assumptions, let go of old beliefs, and upgrade to new ones.
Experiencing loss for the sake of growth takes wisdom, courage, and trust.
Consider: What will you have to let go of, in order to meet the future with openness? What current challenges of yours might be opportunities to learn and grow?
- Slowing down.
If we want the confidence to take risks, the ability to collaborate via love instead of fear, and the strength to embrace change….
…we can’t do it all by texting, driving and eating at the same time.
When we live at a rushed pace, we resort to reactive decision-making, which feeds our primitive brains. In order to meet the challenges of tomorrow, we must bring more to the table. We need to be conscious of our thought processes and our impact on others.
This calls for nourishing our wellbeing, taking care of our brains, tending to our hearts, and… slowing down.
The pursuit effective collaboration requires us all to be present. We must keep false urgency and scarcity at bay, so we don’t treat people like objects or a means to an end. The way we work must feed into everyone’s health and wellbeing.
To become tomorrow’s leader, we can start modeling effectiveness by taking a stand and slowing down.
Consider: How do you design your days for overall wellbeing, so that grounded, heart-based interactions become more likely for you?
As you read this, what excites you and what repels you? What rings true and what doesn’t?
I encourage you to share this article with a colleague or mentor, and use it to start a conversation about how you envision yourself growing as a leader.