A Sense of Belonging and why it’s important

Why ensure your team feel they belong?

Even from our schooldays, we recognise that as human beings, we strive to fit in and belong to the tribe.  In fact, there are a number of ‘essentials’ to existing happily in the world, from safety and comfort to a higher sense of purpose.

So, what’s this got to do with you and your teams?

Well… in order to be at our best at work, we need our brains to be engaged.  To engage our brains, we need to quieten any ‘noise’.  The ‘noise’ may be distractions and wandering thoughts or they might be worries such as those over belonging.

A sense of belonging is not the polar opposite of not belonging; the difference can be subtle. It can be in the way you are made to feel, whether intentionally or not.  In fact, our physiology and neurology is wired for inter-dependence over independence.  We all have a need to be appreciated and belong.

There has been an increasing spotlight on diversity for the last 2 decades, whether gender, disability, race or other.  It is not enough for directors and leaders to say that they don’t exclude anyone, but what are they actively doing to include everyone?

Diversity of thought is to be welcomed and we all think and process information differently.  When opinions are raised that differ from our own, then is the time to get curious.  From truly listening to understand, that’s when the magic happens.

So how do we actively create a sense of belonging for each individual?  As always, the answer lies in communication.  Listen to your employees; help them understand where they fit into the bigger picture; and let them know they are valued.  Step into their shoes and ensure you are thinking about their needs and values which may be different from yours and get curious!

It is easy to turn a blind eye and see the faults in others, but are we willing to turn a critical eye on ourselves?  Leadership is not just about providing direction.  It’s also about understanding yourself and more importantly understanding the impact of yourself on others.

So, if you want your team to be the best it can be, then give some thought to what impact your behaviour is having on the status quo and ensure everyone is actively made to feel a part of the team.  Get curious!

If you’d like to find out more, then email lizwhitfield@growth-plans.co.uk

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