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What Does it Mean to Value Human Beings as a Basis of Diversity and Inclusion in Leadership?

Laura Thompson, Co-head & Coach, Center for Asia Leadership Coaching Council

Let’s look back to look forward. The pandemic caused us to reflect and shift our priorities. History shows us a system of bureaucracy, positional authority, and injustices. Authors of Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them, Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini, remarked leaders make catalytic change when faced with uncertainty. The new paradigm looking forward shifts from competing for power and control to one of competing to add value.

Hence, creating a values-based culture through strategies for building rapport and acknowledging human dignity becomes the way to move towards humanocracy! 

Shared beliefs and values vary by countries, companies, and divisions, such as, sales differing from software engineering. Everyone can step up and nudge the culture in a new direction when they have the psychological safety to share with one another, be curious, ask how do you think versus what do you do, in other words, bond as human beings. This actually correlates with better customer facing performance delivering products and services, along with increased compensation. It is a process of evolution by experimentation. Keep asking: what else can we try? Successful change shall be socially constructed going forward based on valuing the human being and human capital skills in our digitized world of the Internet of things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

As an Adaptive Leadership Coach and Communications Specialist for many years, I have been witnessing the transformation from bureaucracy to humanocracy. Individuals want to be respected, acknowledged, and heard. How can we reimagine new ways for those that do not share similar belief systems so that we can see them in their full humanity, worthy of their rights and human dignity? One way focuses on the whole person model in a holistic way, i.e., incorporating our whole self into the workplace, bringing both our personal and professional passions into the mix.

We are complex human beings and need to embrace our diversity, be inclusive of all, create systemic equitable structures, not forgetting that desire to belong—a basic human social need. 

Uncovering unconscious biases requires inquiry, self-awareness, and humility in a complex, uncertain world. Leaders can be humble and confident and are often the best leaders. We are in a time of urgency to disrupt age-old systems where many leaders still lead with arrogance bounded by certainty and limited thinking.

One method of disruption is to practice humility by being daring and opening up a meeting by saying something vulnerable, in essence, admitting that we can benefit from the expertise of our colleagues. This approach can make arrogant people less hostile, too, because it may open them up to want to help out and resolve this particular issue or problem. 

Most people are solutions-focused. Learn to ask what or how questions as we do not know all the answers, then listen. Asking proves more effective in building influence. Influence is leadership. Humble leaders value human beings, instill confidence, and motivate their team members to be their best selves while producing their best work. The future of work model incorporates these behaviors, attitudes, and mindsets.

What is getting in the way of diversity, equity, and inclusion in leadership? We have choices: we can complain or hack to change the environment. The key is to follow through when faced with resistance. As there will be pushback when attempts are made to breakdown old systems and create new ones whereby human beings are worthy of their rights and dignity. 

What else can we try?

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