A few weeks back I was with a friend while we waited for her husband to finish up work. As we were standing outside the office building we suddenly heard,
“Hi there! “
In turning around, a gentleman I would guess to be in his late forties, early fifties confidently and warmly approached us. His pleasant and familiar disposition first led me to believe he was one of her husband’s co-workers; instead, she introduced him to me as her husband’s boss.
After a few rounds of “Isn’t this weather amazing?”, he asked my friend some questions that I was impressed with:
- How is your dog, Pickles?
- Is Tommy excited to graduate?
- How is your mother feeling?
She gladly offered up answers to each of his questions. (Pickles needs steps to get on the bed, Tommy is excited but nervous and mom is finally doing much better)
Then with a “it was really nice to see you” and an “it was pleasure meeting you” directed to me, he was on his way. Before he dashed off, he turned back and offered “if there is anything I can do to help make things easier for you – in regards to your mother – just let me know.”
Now, were his questions simple? Absolutely. Does the fact that he literally went out of his way to engage us mean that he is ready to lead us all to world peace? Hey, you never know…
But what his very simple, but impactful questions do represent is the conscious extension of trust and comfort.
They represent him as a leader who is making an effort to care; he not only listens, he retains.
These actions tell us that he has, to some degree, a personal understanding of inclusion, and that he is able to think outside of himself.
What is most admirable is that my friend’s husband is a relatively new hire to the company, and that she had actually only met his boss twice before, and rather briefly.
I strongly encourage you to follow his example.
Create your own personal, fundamental inclusion philosophies.
Take the time to incorporate the concepts of diversity and inclusion in your personal everyday experiences. When we make ourselves sincerely available to one another, it creates a welcoming atmosphere. Any sharp leader will tell you that a welcoming atmosphere is the doorway to team innovation.
Each and every day, inside and outside of the workplace, I encourage you to examine your own interactions. Are you going out of your way to make someone feel welcome? Are you really listening when you are casually conversing?
When a leader makes it clear that they are present and accountable to their team and their team’s work-life, it reflects positively on the leader as a person as well as on the organization that chose them to lead.
Bottom Line: When we as people feel we are truly heard, our trust is usually gained and solidified. As leaders, we can demonstrate our true leadership abilities by helping the people around us to feel included and valued.
Diversity and inclusion initiatives don’t always have to be strategic in nature, they just have to be sincere.
“For it is mutual trust, even more than mutual interest, that holds human associations together.” - H. L. Mencken