Everywhere on the internet, but also in the streets of cities around the world, in organizations and businesses, a call for more inclusion is currently being made. It conveys an ideal in which everyone's voice is heard when making important decisions, and an ideal in which differences are not ignored or flattened, but rather connected to lead to creation and success. For organisations and leaders, it is important to actively pursue that ideal not only because it is simply painful when certain groups or individuals are excluded, but also because only inclusive organisations are future-proof. In this article we explain why.
Psychologists and sociologists have known it for a while now: the essence of effective cooperation is being able to deal with differences. Differences are the energy source of development - and if that sounds too abstract to you, think of a driving car wheel on a road surface: it is precisely because of the friction between those two different materials that movement arises.
There are dozens, if not hundreds of differences in every organization. Just think about it: organizations actually consist of different departments, each consisting of groups, each consisting of individual people, each with their own characteristics and talents: man, woman, creative thinking, conservative, technically literate or good at communication, black, white, handicapped, shy, dominant.
Organizations run best when they make use of the input of all these different individuals. Success requires collaboration across departmental boundaries, or - if we look at the level of departments - collaboration between areas of expertise. And if we look at the level of groups, success is achieved if individuals within those groups can communicate and work together in an effective and connected way. This prevents prioritization of partial interests and the creation of a tunnel vision; it also prevents the boycott of a decision by a minority that is not heard in that decision. On the other hand, cooperation creates friction and therefore - think of the rolling car tire on the road surface - innovation and movement. In other words: it ensures growth, creativity and vitality. And that is important for organizations; even more so in the future, than now.
Modern Business Management
Just think: where companies used to be run by a boss, who took all the strategic decisions and instructed his employees to carry out certain tasks, modern business operations look very different. In modern, knowledge-intensive organisations and in a service economy, a lot of independence and improvisation is expected from the employees. After all, today's challenges require holistic answers - and these can only be given through the commitment and involvement of many different people in a company.
This requires a lot from leaders, but also from employees: for example, they have to develop products nowadays, but also be alert to new possibilities, point out trends or ideas to their colleagues and maintain (indirect) relationships with customers. So today's professionals must not simply implement the decisions of others, but must actively think along with and be involved in decisions - otherwise the process will not flow.
Of course, this does not mean that leaders of organisations need to lose sight of the importance of separate departments. These different departments have an important function: they all specialise in something else, and that is precisely why they can become very good at something, instead of being a little good at everything. That focus is efficient. But at the same time, these departments need to be able to work together more and more often these days: the technical department needs to be able to explain things to the customer department, the marketing colleagues need to be able to spar with the technical team.
This means that futureproof leaders have to learn to deal constructively with the different people and groups in the company; together with the professionals in their company, they face the challenge of sometimes connecting substantial differences. This requires courage, because while friction between different departments and individuals can lead to innovation, it can also create some tension. To manage that tension, both leaders and employees need specific, future-proof skills. Courage is an important one; inclusive communication skills are another. Learning such skills is worth it: it not only makes an organization more effective and pleasant to work in, but also future-proof.
Do you know which skills you need? We wrote an article about it earlier.