Focal Shift Flashpoint: Polarization to U.C.I.C.
By Regan MacBain Traub, Founder & Managing Principal
By Regan MacBain Traub, Founder & Managing Principal
Sadly, we’ve continued to see and hear heightened levels of divisiveness and polarization… in organizations, academia, communities, and the news. Increased behavioral support needs from emotional pain, including elevated ego hyper-focus, have been igniting a lack of respectful discourse from all sides. In effect, ‘others’ become seen as adversaries.
Whether conscious or unconscious, or from a disadvantaged or advantaged position, these escalating and corrosive behaviors have been arising when people see or experience the world differently. Increasing focus on differences rather than inclusion and that which brings us together has been increasingly spiraling into anger, deriding statements, feelings of arrogance and/or shame, and potentially, violence. We need to engage more powerful, positive force to intervene.
More than ever, we need unifying leadership at all levels within our families, organizations, and communities to unify people on mission/purpose, help minimize ego focus, collaborate to innovate more successfully, be inclusive (away from a primary focus on difference and grasping the nature of diversity is inclusive of everyone), and generate compassion; to listen more, and speak less.
Much like the CEO of an organization, the conductor of a symphony orchestra is responsible for creating a harmonious outcome or be criticized as a whole by an attentive audience or music critic. A symphony orchestra is comprised of approximately 100 talented musicians, playing a wide array of instruments, at somewhat differing levels of capability, with greater and lesser egos, and a vast array of represented diversity. But, what’s different?
Everyone is focused on the purpose of ensuring the continuity of the beauty, enjoyment, and expression of performing arts with a masterful performance. To succeed, they honor the musical manuscript (like a strategic plan) which guides each instrumentalist to play their individual part in a cohesive manner – in terms of pace, pitch, intensity, and timbre. Unless a musician has a solo, there is no allowance for ego-based expression… only a well-honed, exceptionally diverse team that performs in unison. Leadership at all levels is needed to ‘concertedly’ cultivate and deliver a unified sense of purpose, passion, and performance.
Collaboration is the effort of working with others to create a result to exceed that which one might achieve alone. Most typically, we see collaboration in problem solving, innovating, leading, and mentoring. Collaborative efforts are successful when mutual trust, respect, and unified purpose exist. Collaboration complexity typically increases from relative ease at an intradepartmental level and then increases in difficulty when tackling interdepartmental and interdivisional efforts, and even more so with internal and external organizational collaboration (e.g. supply chains, community partnerships, etc.).
Since collaboration requires ability and stalwart commitment to persevere through increasingly challenging differences of facts/data, methods, roles, goals, and sometimes even in values to accomplish the desired goal, a masterful facilitator with expertise in teaming or managing change and conflict is frequently beneficial.
To be sustainable, organizations and communities need to continually innovate. Since successful innovation is hallmarked by the inclusion and collaboration of diverse perspectives and talent, organizations have been striving to become inclusive while ensuring diversity. It’s about creating the ‘soul’ of your organization… a powerful competitive advantage that few, if any, can replicate anytime soon.
Appreciation and respect of others (especially when differing perspectives or experiences exist) and the wisdom to understand that by choosing to hear and embrace a vast array of differences creates greater insight, understanding, personal growth, unity, trust, and the potential of greater innovation and success from which all can benefit. Ensuring a welcoming and safe (physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing) environment is essential. Routine contemplation on who is missing from the group effort is a norm in an inclusive effort.
What could you achieve if greater unification of purpose, collaboration, and inclusion permeated your workforce, supply chain, and customers?
In our September newsletter, I shared a story about how one person’s passion stirred a disparate group of strangers in a foreign country to compassionately take extraordinary efforts to fulfill a meaningful goal of someone they did not know. In being compassionate for others, we first must recognize that we have not ‘walked a mile in another’s shoes’ (even if we may have had a similar experience) and therefore likely see or feel the world differently.
We may believe we have high levels of empathy (thinking or feeling we understand another). Yet, when empathy is elevated to positive and altruistic action which helps others realize their dream or resolve physical or emotional pain, it reaches the threshold of compassion. “Compassionate leaders are perceived as stronger and more competent, able to make decisions and get things done. And, compassion in an organization triggers other positive outcomes: improved collaboration, trust and team loyalty.”1
What could your organization achieve with greater compassion for your employees, customers, and community? What would it make you feel?
 Rasmus Hougaard, Potential Project, Forbes Magazine, July 8, 2020. Re: Results of their study of 15,000 organizational leaders.