Have you ever quit a job, team, or maybe an organization? As a leadership coach, I work with many leaders who either want to leave or have quit their organization. So the first question I always ask is why?
So what is the typical response? Before I answer, I know what you are thinking. Money, right? While money is sometimes a factor, it is not the overriding factor. So what is the correct answer? Culture!
One of my favorite quotes is from Peter Drucker, who said,
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”– Peter Drucker
Why? Because it’s true! Many leaders can no longer work in an environment where they are not valued.
Christie Lindor gives the following examples of why individuals leave their organizations.
- Not challenged, appreciated, or feeling disconnected from the team and the organization as a whole.
- An extroverted workplace with no flexibility for introverts to manage their energy and time to produce their best work.
- Discouragement due to lack of visible progression of women and people of color in leadership roles.
Culture is the foundation of every successful organization.
What is culture? Merriam Webster defines culture as a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business). Organizational culture is an ecosystem of unwritten rules. It is a combination of multiple factors, including values, beliefs, behaviors, attitudes, and symbols.
The key to creating a strong organizational culture is effective leadership. To create a strong culture, leaders must value diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Why? Because everyone wants to feel like they belong. Individuals must be able to see themselves as contributing members of the organization. They want to be valued and respected for who they are in addition to what they contribute.
So, let’s review the standard definition of each DEI term according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
- Diversity: the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization
- Equity: fairness or justice in the way people are treated
- Inclusion: the act or practice of including and accommodating people who have historically been excluded (as because of their race, gender, sexuality, or ability)
While it is essential to understand the standard definition, I learned early in my career to keep things as simple as possible, so when I explain DEI, I break the terms down into three simple questions:
- Diversity asks: Who is in the room?
- Equity asks: Who is trying to get into the room but can’t?
- Inclusion asks: Have everyone’s ideas been heard?
As the leader, you influence the culture of your organization. As you assess your organization’s culture, ask yourself if we are creating conditions for different voices and ideas to be heard? For example, are we welcoming individuals who look different and think differently from us?
Remember what Christie Lindor said, “People do not just quit companies or leaders … they quit organizational cultures.”
Does your organizational culture value diversity, equity, and inclusion?
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