Demonstrations have expanded across over 20 countries in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Thousands in Nairobi, Dublin, London, Berlin, Milan and Warsaw have organized and mobilized demanding racial equity, justice and a system change. As events continue to unfold, one prominent element of the demonstrations I’ve witnessed is the collective fabric of the movement itself: While driven by individual solidarity, the protests are seemingly sustained not by individual decisions but through collective action.
Many are gathering to fight as one.
The person on the frontline can stand grounded in their physical position because of the individuals around them — supplying materials to fortify the barricades, provide medical supplies when necessary, etc. Each person plays a role. In the Hong Kong Protests, this system of collective resistance is clearly evident through the sign language established to communicate needs across crowded and fast-moving spaces.
(See more on Marco Hernandez and Simon Scarr’s article Coordinating Chaos.)
(Above: Demonstration on 06 June 2020 in Berlin, Germany. Photo by @jaerlake)
In protests, it is not just the organizers and leaders who are to be credited; for without the strength of the collective capacity for mobilization, growth and change is mediocre, at best.
Our work space is no different.
A client recently recounted a scene that many may know well. Tuesday morning. A notification pops up: Weekly check-in with the department teams. Her boss did the talking in order to expedite the meeting (or so she was told) offering up “relevant” developments for their team. After a few sentences, she ended with a profound “not much to report; I think we’re all doing well”. A one-minute speech and then onto the next. Wam, bam, thank ya’ Sam.
I get it. I don’t want to sit in a meeting for an hour while we pass the baton from one speaker to the next, likely repeating the same information and perceivably wasting everyone’s time. However, without delicate management, our methods of and desire for efficiency may quickly become practices of exclusion without even realising it.
When we isolate voices we break the collective force — we leave the medical workers alone, the frontliners without necessary materials and the thousands who have gathered without a leader to follow. As a leader in your work space, be intentional about how you (ex)include fellow staff members on a daily basis. Don’t let my client go unheard just because you have a lunch date. Be present. Be aware.
Here a few tips that may prove helpful:
Solicit opinions from everyone at the table.
We cannot break ground into a new, innovative world without the full inclusion of the ideas, opinions and criticisms of everyone in the room. Next time you’re in a workspace, do not just listen to those whose rank suggests authority. Spot the person who is silent and raise their voice by asking their opinion — even if it means an extra 10 minutes of your time.
Prioritize inclusivity over time efficiency.
Figure out a way to manage time. For those who frequently demand an audience, limit their speaking space. While for the others whose voices are often overlooked, offer a platform for their input. As leaders in an era of home office and Zoom teleconferences, we have the space now to reshape policies and practices into actionable inclusion through which we can better support, build off of and enhance each other’s performance.
We cannot do it alone. As we move forward, let’s offer a space for everyone to be heard.
To explore other ways of establishing an inclusive work space, check out Peggy Yu’s Forbes piece: What Should Inclusion Really Look Like In The Workplace?
Interested in exploring more on your capacities to invoke change now? Schedule a call with Kim.
#newnormal #meaningfulaction #executivecoaching