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Your vibe attracts your tribe (inclusive leadership matters)

Angela Armstrong PhD
Leadership Expert, TEDx speaker and Author

As human beings we share a need to be seen and be heard, for who we are as individuals, a community where we belong. A sense of belonging allows us to focus all our energy on being the best version of ourselves and that includes being compassionate and generous with those who are not like us but who have different qualities that can complement our own.  We cannot solve problems with the same thinking that got us into the situation in the first place, so we need to collaborate with people with all manner of views, experiences, and capabilities. An inclusive culture that enables people to bring their whole self to work makes sense intellectually, emotionally, and commercially. When people flourish, business thrives.

When we don’t feel that we belong we have the same four options we always have: change it, change me, fit in, or opt out. As someone who has three protected characteristics, I’ve tried all the options at different points in time, each has their own pros and cons, they all require work, often the solution you land on is some mixture of all of them. Let’s be real here, a vision of inclusive communities and world peace is a way off yet, so we must work with the ‘mess in the middle’ and take a step each day in the direction of more inclusive behaviours.

1.      Fit in – accept things as they are and mimic the majority

2.      Change me – personal growth, change your perspective, learn

3.      Opt out – find a company where you can bring your whole self to work and feel you belong

4.      Change it – influence the organizational culture to one that is more inclusive

I tried fitting in, it takes significant energy to play a role all day, eventually I burned out.

I changed me, I spent years improving my self-awareness, healing my wounds, nurturing the courage to be all of who I am, and becoming the best version of myself, it’s a lifelong experiment in being me.

I opted out, I was self-employed for the last decade and discovered that not only do “people buy people” but people buy “me” – being my authentic self. A decade ago, it felt like a huge risk to bet my future financial security on a desire to further the diversity agenda and develop more inclusive leaders; leaders who recognize talent in whatever form it comes, rather than hiring in their own image. I found my voice and expressed my views; I attracted clients who wanted to evolve their organizational culture and personal leadership style and commercial success followed.

I changed it. By going solo, I had the freedom to use what influence I had to add my voice to the increasing momentum for working arrangements that are diverse, equitable, inclusive, and where people feel they belong. The work is far from done; many companies have only recently made inclusive leadership a strategic imperative.

Here are three practices I’ve noticed that consistently create momentum for a more inclusive workplace culture.

1.      Sponsorship from the top and the development of inclusive leaders

2.      Meaningful collaboration with affinity groups to inform systemic policy and process change

3.      Include all difference not just specific characteristics, focus on ‘we all win together’

The world of work IS changing. I have recently joined a company where I feel I belong, where I am valued for all of who I am, and where our collective intelligence creates magic that enables our clients to change their world of work forever.

We are Wondrous. Living our values as an inclusive company is easier said than done, it requires work, but it is deeply human, collaborative, life-enriching and ultimately highly impactful for all our stakeholders.

They say, ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’, my tribe certainly found me!