Building Inclusive Workplaces.
Struggling to realise your DEIB strategy?
We refer to our managers as leaders, but when we think about leadership, it is not about having power or authority, it is about having the ability to inspire and create with others to fulfil on their desirable outcomes.
When we think about the world’s best leaders, Nelsen Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, Ghandi or more recently Bill Gates, Jacinda Ardern and Elon Musk. What made them leaders was not authority but what they took a stand for based on what they believed and their ability to engage with others in what they saw as possible.
Martin Luther King believed that all inhabitants of the United States should be judged by their personal qualities and not by the colour of their skin. Nelson Mandela believed there would be an end to apartheid in South Africa. Bill Gates believed that every single person in the world should have easy access to computers. Elon Musk believed that we needed to shift the way we relate to our planet and its precious resources.
These people didn’t have great positions of authority when they started on their journey, they had a vision and were able to mobilise others in pursuit of that vision. They might have acquired great authority along the way, but this did not and does not define them as leaders.
Leadership is not a title, role or position. It is the ability to see something as possible, despite all the evidence that it is not predictable, to pursue that possibility and enrol others in doing the same.
This is great news, as leadership is available to everyone.
In the pursuit of what your heart desires and the capacity to enrol others in working with you to bring that into existence. It’s easy to find out what your heart desires, you just need to ask yourself one question and then really think…
We can’t all be a Nelson Mandela but we can share and communicate what really matters to us with others. In our workplaces and lives this might be equality, ending suffering, both physical and mental, being healthier at work or creating the sort of workplaces where people really thrive and enjoy life.
Creating workplaces where people are safe to speak up and share what is important to them is critical if we want people to step up as leaders. When we create these psychologically safe places, we can evoke leadership in everyone and equip them with additional skills to bring meaningful change into our organisations.
Leadership is not about knowing the answers. I don’t think that any of the people I mentioned earlier knew how to achieve what they believed would come about – Martin Luther King had a “I have a dream..” speech, not a “I have a plan speech”!
In life we get presented with many problems or challenges, many of which we’ve seen before and can apply what we have previously learned by deferring to expertise or hierarchy to work through them. If we work on bringing something new into existence, that we have never accomplished before, the problems we will need to overcome have no known solutions. This calls for a different leadership skill which we call Adaptive Leadership. This is about effectively leading when you don’t have the answers. This can be learned through a process of engaging everyone to work together through these challenges and find the solution.
At WhyNot we have developed a body of work to support people as they mobilise themselves and others to bring into existence a future that is desirable.
How do we…
Increasingly we are seeing more people ask us for our help in this area. With the changes forced upon us by COVID and the world adjusting to the latest normal, let’s create an environment that gets everyone building the future we all desire, by evoking leadership in everyone.
Leading in the face of complex challenges with no easy answers is about creating an environment for collaborative learning and innovation. Adaptive Leadership is about taking on these new and difficult challenges, which calls for leading when you don’t know the answer and relies on engaging others, experimenting and learning together.