In light of the recent Presidential election and first 100 days of the Trump Administration, I am truly amazed and saddened at the degree to which people have been “unfriending” friends and family members on social media. They do so in an effort to secure (“trap?”) themselves in a cocoon of same Party affiliations and memberships in order to drown out all opposing viewpoints and beliefs.
This may seem like a logical approach to fend off the discord of conversation with those who oppose our values and ethics. But who suffers? We all do. Our Nation does.
This myopic, self-destructive tendency to stay inside our own group/bubble/Party has a dangerous corollary in business which I am witnessing with greater frequency in my work as a business consultant and executive coach striving to create empowered workplace cultures. The pattern of behavior has manifested itself quite often in my discussions with fellow CIANJ members.
I’ve noticed that professionals and business owners tend to congregate in groups with the same types of professionals from their industry or similar, like-minded owners. and they do this at their own detriment.
Are you an Accountant? Attorney? Financial Advisor? Marketer? I understand the desire to stay nestled in your comfort zone of industry peers for socializing purposes and as a means of staying on top of the latest industry trends, but this ISN’T that.
I am not sure how business owners and professionals expect to successfully branch out, achieve life-long learning, find new clients, vendors, partners and employees by NOT expanding your existence to lean into the discomfort of new groups, new organizations, and new social/professional settings.
Are you a left-leaning member of the Democratic party? Engage with Breitbart and Fox. Are you a right-wing Republican, Tea Party member, or ultra-conservative? Lean into MSNBC. Fundamentally, these are all just “labels” that possess less significance in our constantly evolving American society. The trends demand we cross over to engage divergent viewpoints. Changing demographics, a more diverse population, shifts in economic foundations, neighborhood gentrification, loss of manufacturing, becoming a service/IT-driven society, etc.
The sign of maturity and an expanded world view is not only to TOLERATE opposing viewpoints but to actively ENGAGE them so we can test our hardwired opinions, beliefs and ethics, and perhaps better understand those who exist outside our warm cocoon of like-minded affiliations.
How else can we effectively serve our clients, hire Rising Stars, and work with the most capable vendors, suppliers, vendors, land Government grants and keep our businesses running?
These demanding times with constantly proliferating technologies, social media, global competition, artificial intelligence, self-directed teams, virtual workforce, multi-ethnic families demand certain skills that are contrary to such a bubble existence. Transformational leaders embrace chaos, function well in risky times and with undefined roles, adapt and are flexible, solve problems, love to learn, challenge their own horizons and thrive in multiple social settings.
I see this often with executives and business owners who fail repeatedly to truly understand emotional intelligence, diversity & inclusion and the nuanced differences between our five Generation workforce comprised of: Matures, Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, Millennials and Generation Z teenagers.
It is convenient, lazy and ultimately self-destructive to block out others with such broad sweeping and false generalizations (Exs. “College graduates these days only want…” or “All Millennials expect….” etc.)
To break out of our bubbles, we need to actively engage those whose opinions, values, affiliations, backgrounds, experiences DON’T match our own. Your future self-worth, business prospects, professional/career growth and social relationships demand that you not just tolerate but actively engage those who are different than you. Who knows? Your next Rising Star hire, most valuable client, best partner may be just outside your bubble.
After all, what sets us apart from others that we choose to keep at a distance may actually draw us closer together to those outside our bubble. We live in way too dangerous times to stick our head in the sand. Reach out. Engage. Find common ground for yourself, your employees, peers, family, friends and our future.
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