Let’s face it; many people feel that their voices aren’t heard, or even welcome. They don’t feel like they belong. This phenomena is not limited to any particular country, industry, or business – it’s ubiquitous.
This isn’t just a concern.
It is a tragedy.
The good news is that regardless of your role, you can be the key to helping the voices of others be heard and creating a greater sense of belonging among team members.
Deep down, we all want to be heard. Each of us yearns for our voice to count. We want to be active members of the process, not marginalized actors pushed to the side.
Using the Believe – Behave – Become framework, I invite you to consider how well you understand and embrace the value of all voices.
Step 1: Believe
What you create in the physical world begins in your mind. In order to create, you must first imagine. I invite you to reflect on how you value the voices of others by answering these questions:
- Do you believe that everyone’s voice matters?
- Can you envision people that you work with who are marginalized, or left out of key conversations?
- Is it possible that no matter your role in the organization, you could help to bring the less heard voices into the open?
- Do you believe that some of those people might have something of value to add to the conversation?
- If so, which conversations and which people (name them)?
Step 2: Behave
Although mindset matters, it is insufficient without a change in behavior. Take a moment to reflect on how you currently behave and what you would like to do differently in the future by answering these questions:
- Do you listen with the intent of understanding? Or, do you fake listen, partially listen, or outright ignore?
- Are you constantly asking the same people to be part of the conversation?
- How good are you at asking one question at a time and waiting for an answer?
- Have you established systems to encourage everyone’s voice to be heard? Or, do your systems limit input to that from only a select few?
- What might you do differently tomorrow, to encourage and embrace the voices of others?
Step 3: Become
Shifting your beliefs and your behaviors will no doubt lead to changes in yourself, your team, and the broader organization. However, change can be difficult. Unless the benefits are worthwhile, you might chose to go back to old patterns. So, take a moment to think about what you, your employees, and the organization might achieve from bringing more voices into the conversation. Answer these questions:
- If those who currently don’t have a voice begin to contribute more, how will it impact them? Will they be more engaged, committed, or driven?
- How might you change? Will you learn new things or experience better results? Will people see you differently? Will you see yourself differently?
- How might the organization benefit? What might be accomplished in both the short- and long-run?
One last thought…
I’m not naive enough to think that everyone has something of value to add to every conversation. So, once you allow voices to be heard, you must discern what should be listened to and acted upon.
As the saying goes…create an environment where everyone gets their say, but not necessarily their way. If you do this in a respectful way, the sense of belonging will grow and grow.
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.