As many of you know, I’m living in a part of the world where many freedoms that I once took for granted – don’t exist. -Now don’t get me wrong I agreed to move here, to seek first to understand and to learn. So I’m not complaining. …But I absolutely must share what I’m learning.
Have you ever considered that…
- In countries where sharing research and opinions puts liberty and lives at risk – citizens are being taught that it is safer not to think
- In countries that allow freedom of speech, traditional journalists have done so much of the work for citizens – that we’ve allowed ourselves to become lazy thinkers
- Dialogue is a way for us to seek truth, gain new perspectives, build relationships, and solve problems
- Dialogue is also a freedom that many take for granted
When my husband said we were asked to move to a giant sandbox on the other side of the world my stomach churned so hard I had to sit down.
How was this possible? We said we would go ANYWHERE in the world except – THERE! Scenes from movies and the news melded with my own fears and questions were fired off so rapidly my husband could not reply.
A “yes” wasn’t possible if I could not change my thinking:
- From the losses to the possible gains.
- From the challenges to the possible opportunities.
- From fear to faith.
In 1999 I read Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for the first time. One of the stories in that book that captured my attention was about David Lilienthal, a man that was commissioned to head the new Atomic Energy Commission.
He brought together a very diverse bunch of influential individuals. And although they had a huge agenda and the press was pushing them for results he believed that efficiency was not the first priority – synergy was. So he wisely invested time facilitating relationship building, causing them to deeply understand each other’s history, goals, passions, and perspectives and transforming a group of individuals into a passionate team.
This is how Stephen Covey describes the result: “The respect among the members of the commission was so high that if there was disagreement, instead of opposition and defense, there was a genuine effort to understand. The attitude was, “If a person of your intelligence and competence and commitment disagrees with me, then there must be something to your disagreement that I don’t understand, and I need to understand it. You have a perspective, a frame of reference I need to look at.”
I was leading a small team in a culturally diverse city in the U.S. when two of my employees asked why all the titled leaders on our leadership team were white.
I was raised in a part of the country that was not culturally diverse, today – nearly a decade after their question 89% of the population in my home state is white and 95% of the county that surrounded the town I grew up in was white. As a result, it was a question I didn’t see coming and one I did not have a good answer for.
For years I’ve been asking executives and hiring managers what their biggest challenge is. At least 90% of the time I get the same answer: “People.” That comment is quickly followed by an explanation about how hard it is to find enough qualified and caring people to do the work.
It is interesting to note that some titled leaders are so desperate for people that they hire anyone that can “fog a mirror” which often results in skill gaps and behavioral issues that can damage their culture and reputation and stunt their growth.
Other titled leaders hold so tightly to a specific checklist of requirements that they miss hiring a stronger applicant that has the passion, drive and emotional intelligence to take their department and organization to the next level.
Often their decision to wait a long time to fill a needed position adds stress to their teams, and doesn’t guarantee a cultural fit, the drive or the fresh perspective that instigate growth.
If your organization is struggling to find smart, caring, committed people that will improve your culture, your service and your reputation then consider this.