Tag Archive for: belonging

CREATING A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE BELONG

The need to create a place where people belong grows out of the isolated nature of our lives, our workplaces, and our communities. The absence of belonging and the realization of its importance in re-engaging our workforce has been especially amplified in the past two years.
I believe that creating a place where people belong is a key driver of engagement, fulfillment, and success. So… what is belonging, and how do you create a place where people belong?
When we think of belonging, memories of high school often come to mind where belonging was about popularity, appearance, and fitting in. But through a more mature lens, belonging is about being valued for our unique contributions, knowing that we make a difference, being connected to our co-workers, supported and encouraged in our daily work and career development, and being proud of our work.
From my research and experience, belonging is rooted in five key elements:
1. Personal Responsibility: From our high school experience, many of us learned that it was up to someone else to make us feel we belong. While those around us undoubtedly impact our sense of belonging, belonging starts with a decision that “if it is to be, it starts with me.”
2.  Heartfulness: Heartfulness, according to author Elizabeth Lesser, is “knowing what you love, and having the guts and grace to go for it.” The goal of our Authentic Leadership programs is to dig deep into your self and discover the essence of who you are. Until you can belong to yourself, you will never quite feel that you belong in the world.
3.  Contribution: I learned from raising children that there is a difference between chores and contribution. We all must roll up our sleeves at times and get the chores done. But contribution is about knowing, deep within us, that our unique gifts, talents, and strengths are truly valued and make a difference to the organization and those the organization serves.
4.  Care: People around you at work – peers and senior leaders alike – genuinely care. They are sincerely committed to helping you find the resources, support, and encouragement you need to succeed in your daily work and live a full life. With caring comes a sense that we are safe and among friends, that silos are being replaced by a genuine community, strangers are welcomed, diversity is celebrated, leaders are committed to creating systems and structures that support belonging, and problems are being exchanged for possibilities. When it comes to belonging, caring is everything.
5.  Pride: While visions, plans, mission statements, and committed leadership are important, even essential, they cannot be successful without the engagement of every person in the organization. Pride is a genuine alignment with your organization’s purpose, vision, and values. Pride is what shows when you excitedly tell your six year old where you work, what you do, and why what you do matters.

A CULTURE OF BELONGING: Re-Engage, Renew, Refocus Your Team In A Post-Pandemic World

American philosopher, William James, said, “there lies within every being a place where, when connected to it, we feel deeply and intensely alive. At such moments there is a quiet voice inside that says, ‘This is the real me.’”

After completing the Authentic Leadership Academy this week, I agree as it was truly an experience of being ‘deeply and intensely alive’ for me.

Over sixty like-minded leaders from all walks of life and from all types of organizations came together virtually for three days. We shared a commitment to make a difference in the world and to amplify our impact by supporting each other to connect with our authentic selves.

A diverse group of people who would not have been able to connect like this in-person shared a unique learning experience in a virtual space. There were amazing stories, tears, laughter, and pure joy as we built an authentic community. I left incredibly inspired by the humanity, courage, and wisdom that emerged during our brief time together. We all left knowing that none of us are alone.

When we departed, we weren’t just leaving a virtual event, we were leaving a community. I left inspired with a renewed belief that the work of a leader is to turn a group of people into a community. It’s that simple and it’s that complex.

COVID-19 has accelerated the evolution of work and the re-examination of our lives. The new workplace reality is that organizations need to be more flexible in their approach to work. Many workers are emerging from the pandemic with greater independence and autonomy over their career and life choices. To attract and keep the best people, organizations need to adapt to these evolving expectations.

But the Academy last week reminded me that whether we’re connecting virtually, in-person, or in a hybrid environment, people really haven’t changed much. They have the same need to belong, to be a part of something beyond themselves, to be working toward a shared vision, and to contribute something meaningful in the world. And our workplaces still serve as an important tool to make that happen.
Here are three strategies to re-engage, renew, and refocus your team in a post-pandemic world:

1. Integrate flexibility with accountability. People will undoubtedly be across the spectrum as far as readiness and commitment to return to the office. Some are yearning for the office environment where they have routine, work/life boundaries, and meaningful and creative connections, while others love being at home with the independence and freedom it permits. While flexibility will be the new norm in a hybrid approach, there must be accountability. The work still has to get done and some in-person interface will undoubtedly be required for creativity and collaboration. While lots of work can be done remotely, some work, to maximize potential, has to be done in-person. The key is to work toward a flexible, accountable structure that works for everyone. Remember: leadership isn’t about always being pleasing or making things easy for people. You have to push and challenge as much as you grant grace and respect the need to feel safe. As the old saying goes, “If it’s not good for the hive, it’s not good for the bee.”

2. Ensure values alignment. Historically, values have been driven from the positional leaders of an organization. The boss tells the employee what the values are and what the expected behaviors need to be. The new world presents an opportunity to collaborate more meaningfully with your team members. Listen carefully to what people’s personal values are and explore a win-win relationship so that both the organization’s and employee’s values are aligned. There is potential for higher engagement and inspired employees who know you care about their work and where it fits into their lives – and that you care about their lives beyond work.

3. Create a platform for authentic contribution. People ultimately aren’t inspired by what they get; they are inspired by what they give. We are all unique and have something important to offer. Rather than simply giving people a job to do, be committed to know the gifts and passion of every person under your care and devote yourself to supporting the expression of these unique abilities in a way that contributes to the organization and those you serve. Everyone has a story, and when you can create an environment that brings that story to life, that ignites their inner flame, you’ll never have to spend another day motivating anyone. If you aren’t empowering passion and building capacity in others, you aren’t leading. Every person needs to be able to answer the question: Why do you matter here?