It feels as though we’re living through a moment – around the World – when we’re having to ask ourselves, should we open up to more diversity (and uncertainty)? Or should we tighten controls and policies, stick with traditional working practices and people that we know?
In every organisation that I have come across, there is a tension between the need to conform (to be a ‘member’) and the need to be me.
At Ethos, I sense a genuine desire to support individuality. At the same time, there is, naturally, the expectation to identify as an Ethos Partner.
What does that mean?
If it were possible to plot preferences on a graph, to make sense of the Ethos culture, my guess would be that we would see a dispersion of views around things like working arrangements, industry sectors and technical toolkits.
In contrast, we might see clustering around age, sex, ethnic background, affluence, proximity to London.
I think we might also be surprised to see clustering around a preference for directive leadership in the active core.
I confess to being in all of those clusters: I’m over 40, male, white, comfortably off and I live near London. Also, despite previously believing myself to be a naturally “collaborative leader”, psychometric tests suggest that in fact, I have a strong need for control.
At Meaning Conference last month, we heard from Annette Mees about Kao’s Law: “The power of creativity rises exponentially with the diversity and divergence of the group”
As Ethos grows, I would like to actively promote more diversity, to focus different eyes on our complex problems: become more international, work more with different socio-economic groups, listen to more young people, women and perspectives from the arts, etc.
Reconciling the needs of both individuality and acting as one, I like Charles Eisenstein’s description of ‘interbeing’: “We are the same being looking out at the world through different eyes.”
Inevitably, this means that there will be conflicting views. It seems to me that this is a painful gift! We need to invite and accept some conflict and uncomfortable feedback to develop and innovate. In order to navigate this successfully, I believe that we will need to nurture mediation as a core team-working and leadership competency.
It is perhaps a paradox that a defining attribute of an Ethos Project, or being an Ethos Partner, should (in my opinion) be active promotion of diversity.