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How Leaders Bring An Organization Together In a Time of Divisiveness
The United States is deeply divided at the moment. These divisions are playing out in the political arena, on college campuses, and in our communities every day. So what do you do if you are leading an organization where diverse people must work together to achieve common goals and objectives? First, focus on shared values. Follow the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When championing civil rights, he didn't talk about the values of the minority versus the values of the majority. He needed both sides to come together and push for equal rights for all. He did that by finding a set of values that both groups would agree were important: "American values." Next, focus on shared goals. Realize that it is healthy for people to disagree on how to accomplish a goal but critically important for people to agree on what the goal is. Top leaders either make clear to people that they share the same goal, or if a shared goal does not exist, create one.

A third strategy is to "balance the team." In this regard, it is mission-critical that your leadership team reflect the diversity of backgrounds and beliefs in your organization. Your decision-making team's composition is a signal to people about how much you care. When people don't believe their organization and its leadership care about their needs and views, fear usually sets in. Finally, create reminders of common identity. These reminders could be awards, informal norms and routines, or physical artifacts like office design. "To bring people from diverse backgrounds and beliefs together," the article's author writes, "you need to create visible reminders of a common identity, where people genuinely believe that despite their differences they are, together, part of something special."
Forbes (02/08/17) DeRue, Scott
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MARCH 2017 EDITION
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