Diversity & Unity — An Undefeatable Strength

Diversity and unity may appear as the opposing ends of a spectrum where one exists the other cannot. But there is an undeniable strength to be gained where the foundation is built to allow diversity and unity to flourish hand in hand. Diversity seeds creativity, and unity enables focus and contribution. Unfortunately, most organisations today have neither diversity nor unity, and this division caps their performance.

Active Knowledge Question:

What is the glue that keeps your organisation together as one?

Strength Through Unity

The core competitiveness of a business rests in the combined talent and effort of every single person that works within and with a business. Therefore, the task of leadership is to muster and focus that combined talent and effort so that every person may contribute their utmost.

The potential that resides in that combined talent and effort can only be drawn forward where there is unity. Division will only degrade a person’s participation and contribution.

But also, for any business to excel there is a need for a diversity of talents, and the people who might hold those talents.

And therein lies the real challenge, bringing about a unity that does not restrict diversity.

Today many organisations are only recruiting and retaining people who think and act like them. This forced group think can only create blinkers to opportunity and possibility and degrade contribution. If you saw an opening for growth that did not fit the accepted norm, your reaction would likely be to remain silent. And every organisation needs mavericks to shake the place up and challenge the embedded conventional thinking.

On the other extreme, you certainly do not want a diversity of people who feel no connection or community with each other.

Traits Required For Unity

The personal traits required to allow unity to thrive will be a challenge for some people, but they are signs of personal strength and should be encouraged. There is no place for self-interest in organisations that value diversity and unity. Through leadership, these traits should be moulded into your organisation’s culture and be uplifted and reinforced continuously.

Remember, when we are speaking about diversity and unity, we are discussing individual people, and therefore, these are personal traits that must be exhibited, practised and upheld and not simply words in policy documents. The traits are:

  • Acceptance of someone who thinks and acts differently to you and has different worldviews and values.
  • Non-judgement and non-dispute. There is no judgement of others, nor is there any place for arguing with them or disputing their ways.
  • There are no exclusion or inclusion practices where you can only belong if you are like us.
  • Humility is a hallmark of good character and reflects a willingness to listen to others.
  • Having to be right is not necessary.
  • There is a sensitivity to the beliefs of others, and you are conscious not to act in a way that might offend.
  • How you treat others is always at the forefront of your thinking.
  • You accept limitations on your personal actions and freedoms so as to not negatively impact others.

These traits reflect a humble acceptance of others as they are and seeking not to offend through your actions and words.

But this unity requires a universal approach of acceptance and is not about one group being required to change their ways to meet the demands of another. On the contrary, unity means that we all accept the ways of everyone else, and they accept our ways.

Foundations Of Unity

In business, unity means that our personal and private lives are ours alone and we connect around the platform of business purpose and motive.

The elements of the competitive engine in your business which create the foundations for unity are:

  • Purpose: every business exists for purpose, and that purpose should be crafted around the customer and their needs.
  • Motive: every business has an underlying motive that encourages participation and contribution and supports its purpose. That motive should be one of competing against yourself to bring forth the greatest potential that exists in the business.

And of course:

  • A compelling vision can form the quest that entices everyone in and forward, and
  • Of course, culture is the business’s personality, which should reflect the above traits and be one of acceptance of others.

These elements of your competitive engine can form a foundation, a common platform, on which everyone working within and with your business can meet and unite.

Worthy leadership is an essential element of the competitive engine and must ensure these foundation stones are crafted and maintained.

Leadership must also be very careful not to allow the business to be drawn into or used as a platform for any social causes that might cause distress to persons within its community. Again, this is more likely to occur in businesses where there is a distinct lack of diversity and group think is in play.

The full potential of a business can only be created and released where diversity exists, which openly invites and welcomes people of many varied cultures and beliefs. And sits comfortably on a platform of unity so that everyone is accepted for who they are and free to contribute their utmost.

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All the best in the success of your business,

Richard Shrapnel

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