Community Inclusiveness

Standing at the Monday morning assembly at my daughters' primary school recently, I received a timely reminder about the importance of community and inclusiveness and its role in our working lives.

Inclusiveness is closely linked to feelings of involvement and a sense of belonging. These are some of the key ingredients of team cohesion, happiness and productivity. 

It was the time of year where the school students elect their School Captains, the leaders of their school.  Ten Grade 6 girls and boys demonstrated the courage to give a speech to the school assembly of 600 people as to why they want to be School Captain.  Their excitement, nervousness and for some, the anxiety to present in front of such a large audience, was clear for the room to see. For me I could see that one source of discomfort was that winning meant that their friends would not also win. 

This experience felt common among the winter games Olympic competitors. In my mind this was best demonstrated by our own Torah Bright, the Olympic snowboarder who won a gold medal at Vancouver 4 years ago and backed this up with a silver medal at the Sochi Olympic games this year.  When asked about wanting to win, she said that she was not driven by this but instead was driven by the love for what she did.  These words were actioned when I watched Torah secure the second place and not first. What I saw was all of the competitors hugging and congratulating each other on their performances, regardless of outcome.

This is a lesson that I think most of us would welcome. To integrate this sense of inclusion into your behavioural responses to competition really illustrates the emotional intelligence involved in doing your best without over-investing in having to win.  I see those who know me smiling at this comment - my track record in this regard is not so strong. 

When I get past my own behaviours and beliefs, this leaves me feeling optimistic that our future is in good hands.  The leadership we need is emerging - whether it be Torah Bright or the Grade 6s at my girls' primary school  - leadership is the ability to role model and show others the importance of looking outside of our immediate desire to gratify our urges to win at any cost, to support each other, and to be inclusive.

How are you going with embracing community in your approach to leadership? What strategies are you implementing to support involvement, inclusion and a sense of belonging in your team and the wider workplace? How is this working for you?

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