Building a truly inclusive environment does not happen overnight.
Much like building relationships take place over a longer period of time. Leadership Intimacy means to be known by and to know employees. Damien Hooper-Campbell, Ebay’s Diversity Chief, sees the goal of inclusive teams to draw wider circles of trust faster by really getting to know each other.
The challenge is that even among those we see every day — for hours and hours at a time — we don’t get beyond those surface-level conversations. Even among those we know, we choose not to dive deeper when we’re at work.
So, how do we do that? We need to do what we very rarely do as human beings when we first meet each other and in our on-going relationship building. We need to be okay being slightly politically incorrect for the moment as long as we’ve established an assumption of good intent. My “elevator story” may show you the way.
“It’s raining today,” she remarked pleasantly.
I returned her smile, thinking how obvious her comment was. Surely, I thought, if one takes the time to engage another person, wouldn’t it be better to make the encounter more productive?
So I replied, “I’m from South Africa, we rarely get this much rain in Johannesburg. Where’s your home?”
By the time we reached the workshop, we had learned a few interesting facts about each other.
Leaders can use moments like a shared elevator ride to advance their intimacy with others. Every encounter, including ordinary chance crossed paths, offers an opportunity to take their Leadership Intimacy up a notch.
Erin Meyer in her new book, The Culture Map, also shares that dealing with multicultural workplace misunderstandings starts with communication — being open about a colleague’s behaviors that might seem different from yours and talking about those difference. The stories shared takes a step toward knowing employees and making them feel welcome.
Listen carefully to the stakeholders, make sure you build understanding. Empathize with others and in turn they will empathize with you, laying the groundwork for a lasting relationship.
Do you want your leaders to build truly inclusive environments and get comfortable with intimate conversations that embrace diversity? Introduce them to our Embracing Diversity Workshop.
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