It's critical to be mindful that the people you lead come from all different faiths and backgrounds. I think as leaders we need to be reminded of this because we can forget and think ourselves above others.
A great way to ruin a relationship is by ignorantly attacking what someone else believes. Here's an example of how not to do it:
I'm going to bet that Brandon Flowers has forgiven Richard Dawkins by now. What if they worked together? What if Richard was Brandon's manager?
After this uncomfortable exchange do you think Brandon would look forward to coming to work and collaborating with Richard? Do you think he's going to enjoy sharing his ideas in meetings with him?
Here's some advice: Don't be a bonehead.
I wish managers would actually take the opportunity to lead and not focus on who's right and who's wrong. Imagine if their focus was on building bridges, coming together, and focusing on common ideas, interests, and beliefs. This is how one moves people forward in a position of leadership.
The point is not to focus on what divides us, but rather what brings us together. Management must not think themselves above their employees. Focus should be on leading and seeking that higher ground so they can lift others up. At the heart of what they do must be service - giving, serving, coaching, and providing an example of how they want their people to lead, follow, and work. People will follow your example over what you say.
I challenge you to be openminded of what other people believe, or don't believe for that matter. We are so fortunate to live in a country where we have this right and we should never take it for granted. Besides, listening to what others believe does not mean you have to believe it too. Take the next opportunity you get to share what you believe with someone, find out what values you share and what principles you agree on.
Chances are you have more in common than you thought.
Paul Hill, Ph.D.
I design, plan, and evaluate economic development programs for Utah State University.
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