Hello, Jody Ann Johnson, People Champion and Strategist here with the 90th episode of “Coffee with Jody”. Today, we’re exploring how Diversity and Inclusion are connected with Independence.
Imagine that you’re spearheading a project to decide whether or not the company should invest in a new division or a new revenue line, and you’re the one who’s accountable for making this decision. It’s a huge endeavor and it could absolutely pay off, or it could be a significant distraction from your core business and be a complete failure. So what do you do?
Most people will put together a small team (if they put together a team at all) of people that they know and that they like, and that they’re familiar with. However, the vital components of an intelligent group include true diversity, independence of opinion, judgment and trust.
To quote James Surowiecki from “The Wisdom of Crowds”, “Diversity and Independence are important because the best collective decisions are the product of disagreement and contest, not of compromise and consensus.” Intelligent groups have that diversity, that independence of thought and decentralization, which is the specialized expertise, informed by local knowledge.
A good example of this is Abraham Lincoln in Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, “The Team of Rivals” She describes when Abraham Lincoln became President, he put together a diverse team of people who not only were in the opposite political party, they didn’t like him and they didn’t like each other.
But, what he did was chose the best person for that area of his cabinet, for their expertise, then he helped them to navigate through how they could work together. By doing this he got all of the diversity of opinion, and all of the diversity of thought. He didn’t try to convince anybody, but allowed for the collective knowledge of the group to inform him on how to make decisions and move forward during his presidency.
If you haven’t read that book, I highly recommend it, even though it’s three inches thick, it’s probably in my top three to five books ever! And it’s an excellent example of the kind of leadership that’s required to navigate through extraordinarily difficult times, while making sure that everyone has a voice.
As we transition from conversations on diversity, inclusion and belonging into next month’s topic of Independence, I’d like to make a bridge between those two. Independence day has only been celebrated as the 4th of July since 1941. On July 2nd in 1776 a decision was made to form our union, but the declaration of independence was signed on the 4th of July.
Let me share a couple of opening lines that can illustrate why the declaration of independence, the 4th of July, and the independence of thought is so tied to diversity and inclusion in the business world. “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
You can see how in the workplace, these rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are so important. We’ve been discussing in the last several videos about how diversity, inclusion and belonging can make a difference in people’s lives in our collective decision-making and also the business case for greater growth and profitability.
Now, as we transition into independence, you can see that it’s essential to maintain our independence of thought, which is not easy because people want to belong, yet how valuable it is to maintain our independence of thought and to encourage the diversity and independence of thought of those that are on our team.
Here’s an interesting fact I’ll share with you about Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, original authors of the declaration of independence. They both died on the 4th of July within hours of one another on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the declaration of independence. I still get goosebumps when I think about that.
And if you’d like to know more about how business and executive coaching can support you and the attainment of your goals, please schedule a discovery call with me on the calendar below.
That’s it for today, bye bye.