This serial entrepreneur and former business executive just shed a transformative light on how leaders must approach diversity and inclusion.
At the 2018 EntreLeadership Summit, a leadership conference for business owners and senior/mid-level leaders, the lifelong entrepreneur and international bestselling author, Seth Godin, was asked the following question from the audience:
How do you get employees to think and care about the company the same way a leader or the business owner does?
Godin's response was a masterclass in diversity and inclusion.
People don't believe what you believe, people don't want what you want, and people don't know what you know.
You can hope that there is complete alignment, but your narrative is different than their narrative. You have the narrative of somebody who probably went through a lot of sacrifice to be in charge, and the people who have chosen to come to work for you have a different narrative, and there are people who have worked for folks who aren't as good as you and that has informed their narrative of who they trust, what they believe, and what they want.
What we need to be able to find as leaders is the humility to accept the fact that people are different than us. They have not failed when they act in a way different than we would have acted.
We have to have the empathy to realize that someone who doesn't know what we know, want what we want, or believe what we believe...is not wrong. They are right. Because if we grew up the way they grew up, seen what they had seen, and been treated the way they were treated...we would probably be just like them.
It takes a special sort of humility to say to people...'I will see you deeply enough to guess the best I can what you want and open doors to help you get what you want, and I will hold you to your promises.'
When it comes right down to it, I think the question is flawed. You're not going to hire people who want your story to be their story, you're together on a journey, but you are not the same person.
If leaders want an employee to care about the company narrative, leaders need to first care about the employee's narrative. Leaders committed to diversity and inclusion leverage the individual differences of their team as a competitive advantage.