Key Point: Why are we so afraid? Why do we narrow down our “us” when we feel threatened? Of course, it may be because the threat of losing something to “them” is real, and/or perceived to be the case, even if there is little or no evidence to place blame on identifiable others. This is a serious question for our broadest community; indeed the world. However, to make the boundary of the discussion more manageable, I will focus on the organizations we work in.
Too often, we miss the abundant opportunity to expand our “oneness” in the workplace and get caught up tribal disputes. Hence the detestable word “silos;” a seemingly oversimplified explanation for what’s wrong in organizations today. To tee up our thinking a bit more on this, please reflect on the following quote by Dr. Brandi Kellett who hosts the website: “Expand Your Us.”
“We live in divided times. Longing for community, or to belong, or perhaps to feel known, we gravitate toward people with whom we share experience and expectation. We find our tribe. Our people. Soon, either intentionally or quite passively, we find ourselves divided into ‘us’ and ‘them.’ We cling to our ‘us,’ (preventing) moving toward ‘them’ with empathy, greeting mistakes with compassion, going to bat for them, fighting their battles. We greet ‘them’ however, with skepticism, defining ‘them’ by their mistakes, assuming the worst, and easily placing them into well-defined stereotypical boxes. Expand Your Us is my effort to confront this divide, to highlight the devastating effects of ‘us and them’ thinking, and to suggest alternatives as we try to form a more perfect union. There is no them, there’s only ‘us?’”
When we are at our best, common purpose and values drive us to “oneness.” The hard work of personal leadership is to deeply converse and discover the shared purpose and values that are most often there, waiting to be both discovered and understood at a personally emotional level. Fortunately, and underlying my true optimism, is that when we dig into the soul of our humanness, there is so much to connect all of us. When we expand our boundaries of understanding, we make room to be inclusive. That’s why every individual in any institution needs to see themselves inside a well understood and articulated organization purpose. It is also why explicit and widely understood values are the first lens to examine and guide each other’s behavior. This is the glue and makes up part of the “us.”
Recognize driving inclusion is what accountable leaders and members do. It’s the hardest of the hard work. It is not being weak minded or paying attention to so called “soft skills.” Rather, it involves relentless forward movement in advancing purpose, values, equity, compassion, fairness and creating abundance. It requires bridges that prevent the toxic acts of promoting division and making what’s wrong with the “world” a matter of “us” against “them.” When that happens, we just keep swapping out so called losers and winners; one time it’s “us,” the next time it’s “them.” In that context, what value does so called “winning” really have? As Dr. Kellett states: “There is no “them,” only “us.” Real leadership finds us there.
- When blame and destructive division at any level begins to emerge, consciously and intentionally look to explore how to expand the “us.” Help bridge the gap and positively embrace “them” in a way where the mutually recognized best forward movement belongs to “oneness.”
Expanding our “us” in Leadership,
One Millennial View: This is powerful. As time progresses, I believe Millennials are slowly but surely realizing that leaving “safe spaces” and exploring discomforting viewpoints is beneficial. I absolutely encourage it. Yeah, some viewpoints make us feel uncomfortable, but it’ll get worse if we just draw that “us” versus “them” mentality in the sand.
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis