Our Inclusive Leadership Sessions (ILS) lead our participants to dive into myriad topics and candid conversations. One is cultural values, which we analyze before the sessions using cultural intelligence assessments. The assessments provide information on the participant’s position within the spectrum of a pair of “opposing” cultural values such as individualism-collectivism, low-high power distance, and direct-indirect communications. One pair I particularly enjoy exploring addresses the differences between Being and Doing cultures.
What’s a Being Culture?
Let’s first describe this pair of values that explains our preferences for either quality of life or proactive action. That said, a predominantly “Being” person will tend to be reactive and passive. A more “Doing” person will prefer to focus on productivity and goals. The former works on relationships, while the latter works on the task.
Research suggests that North America presents a large cluster of “Do-ers.” Being a Do-er (oxymoron intended), I share with my peers the urgency to consistently maintain and execute a “to do” list to revel in the exhilarating feeling of accomplishment. Nothing wrong with that! In fact, there is no “right” or “wrong” side of the cultural values spectrum. Each cultural value in a pair brings, well, value to the other. I often seek to understand the mindset of “Be-ers” because, frankly, I envy them a little… Well, more than a little, I confess.
Be-ers will rather spend their planning time on relationships before tackling the tasks at hand. They seek accomplishment in building solid connections with their peers to achieve their objectives. In other words, they focus on people before tasks. Building solid relationships allows Be-ers to succeed just as much as Do-ers but differently. In fact, achieving goals typically requires one to build relationships and execute tasks altogether. One can see how Be-ers can help Do-ers achieve results and vice versa. And THAT is the beauty of leveraging differences.
Inclusion: More Being than Doing
While Do-ers deliver efficiency by checking items on their to-do list and reaching deadlines, Be-ers focus first on how teammates interact and if they are in the right frame of mind (e.g., if they are happy or well) to achieve the work. This emphasis on human behaviour is an essential asset to inclusive leadership.
Such is the critical finding I picked up from our Inclusion expert and ACCULTURA’s valued partner, Patrycja Riera of Inclusionem. Riera, a regular guest speaker and facilitator of our ILS program, concentrates her research and practice on inclusion. A pragmatic by nature (she loves data!), Riera consistently seeks to identify the essential qualities and traits of the inclusive leader. In a recent publication, she outlines 5 foundational character traits of inclusive leadership:
- Humility – There is no unity without humility. I am not the center of the universe.
- Connection – Real and authentic relationships are everything.
- Curiosity – You want to know more about the other side.
- Empathy – I can put myself in your shoes. I understand and feel what you are experiencing.
- Courage – You have tough and needed conversations.
Deloitte also provides a model capturing six signature traits of an inclusive leader. Besides listing Curiosity and Courage in common with Riera’s model, Deloitte’s model notably adds Cultural Intelligence to the lot. But the one thing both models share about inclusive leadership qualities is that they all refer to soft skills.
For clarity, Investopedia describes soft skills as “character traits and interpersonal skills that characterize a person’s relationships with other people. … Soft skills have more to do with who people are, rather than what they know.”
One might say that soft skills are the “expertise” of people of Being cultures. But, sadly for us of the Doing persuasion, it looks like we’re missing out! Hence, aligning and partnering with Be-ers is critical for a well-rounded inclusive leadership experience. And THAT is but one valuable result of leveraging differences.
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