Recently while speaking to a group, a member of the audience made reference to leadership preferences of the younger generations being much like that of Biblical leadership traits and beliefs. We had been discussing servant leadership as the most effective style of leadership in today’s world.
Servant leadership is never about “self;” it is always about “others.” Servant leadership is always about helping people succeed. When you help people succeed, you help your organization achieve greater results. Your people are happier as they have achieved a higher level of self-esteem and feelings of belonging. You can more easily maximize peoples’ potential.
A key element of servant leadership is diversity and inclusion, which has never been as important to organizational and community health as it is today and will be even more so in years to come. Diversity also includes respect for peoples’ divergent beliefs, including faith beliefs. I am a Christian, however, many years ago, to gain a better understanding of divergent beliefs, I began studying other religions and beliefs, including attending diverse places of worship. I wanted to learn so I could help create understanding in others.
I recall reading evangelist Billy Graham’s book on leadership. He told a story about being invited to speak in a mid-eastern country. I do not recall what country or the time-frame in which this occurred. One thing I do recall and will never forget is how he approached his message. He did not speak on the “differences” in divergent religious beliefs; he focused on what all faiths had in common—love. They are all grounded in love.
In my book “4 Generations @ Work,” this is a critical recommendation for creating a high performing culture—“focus on what we have in common, not on differences.”
In an organization or community, create a culture of true diversity and inclusion where all people feel safe to be themselves. Create understanding and acceptance of divergent peoples and thought processes. Give all people a voice.
True diversity must be inclusive and respectful of all. Diversity is not mere espoused programming and words on a wall; it’s a living, breathing way of life. You will hear me say this often as it is a must if creating a culture of diversity. It’s creating a culture within your organization or community where all people know they belong, and that they are respected for “who they are,” not what “you think they should be.”
Also, create accountabilities for behaviors that tier to diversity and inclusiveness; accept nothing less. When this occurs, you create positive energy that you cannot shut down. Things happen. Further, you are able to leverage divergent thoughts and perspectives each individual brings to your organization—you are able to innovate and create.
Copyright © 2011 by Patricia Hatley
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