In our earlier article, we had shared the importance of building ‘Inclusive Intelligent’ teams in order to enhance the daily lived experience of employees and promote a sense of genuine belonging. 

A quick summary of the conditions that need to exist for ‘Inclusive Intelligence’: 

  • A safe environment 
  • Deep levels of trust 
  • High team awareness 
  • High team identity 

Now we are exploring some ideas on how these conditions can be created. But an important question before that: what are the circumstances in which one will feel truly included within their team? 

Of course, here I am not talking about physical inclusion, but psychological inclusion. Psychological inclusion is felt when: 

  • They are able to express their opinions freely without the fear of being judged 
  • They are able to be themselves without the pressure of trying to unnecessarily ‘fit in’ 
  • They feel proud to be part of their team 
  • They recognise that there is a larger purpose to the work they do, individually and as a team

So now that we are clear what we are aiming for, here are some ideas for us to create these circumstances: 

1) Active perspective taking and sharing

Proactive measures should be taken for people to exchange ideas and reveal their patterns of thinking. The same situation may be viewed differently by different people, depending on their individual biases and experiences. 

A few months ago, we had participated in a ‘Crossroads’ facilitation process. A problem statement was given with five options for solutions. Each participant was required to pick the solution that they thought best addressed the problem, and explain their reasons for the choice. After a few of such rounds of problem statements and sharing of ideas on solutions, patterns of thought were slowly revealed. It soon became evident that members were picking solutions either from an emotional or practical standpoint. 

While of course, differences in opinion were allowed to be shared freely and several arguments ensued, this kind of open, active perspective taking and sharing brought to the table so many different ideas. And most importantly, each member felt heard and spoke freely without any judgements being passed on their thinking process. 

2) Team Values and Individual Values

Values are a very important indicator of the way we behave and the choices we make. When the individual values are in clash with team values, it might lead to a dissonance. 

For example, if I pick independence as my topmost value, and the rest of my team picks collaboration, it is a clear indicator that my style of working is different from the others. My independence may drive me to take decisions quickly without checking with others, which may not sit well with them. Just a simple recognition of this fact can help us understand each other better. 

On the other hand, if most values are the same, then we know that diversity of thought may not really exist, leading us to have a good equation, but negatively impacting innovation. In the same breadth, too many different values in the team will have its own set of consequences. 

A really simple exercise that could have a profound impact on the team’s ‘Inclusive Intelligence’ would be to ask members to write down their topmost and least important value, followed with a discussion on how it impacts their day to day choices and behaviors. 

3) Leveraging Individual Strengths

Drawing upon Gallup’s Strengths Finder, when we are aware of the key themes of strengths that the individuals in a team possess, an environment of true trust can be created. 

From my own example, I have Strategic as my top strength and Analytical amongst the last ten themes. And the rest of my team has Analytical as the top 5. Now, when we know this about each other, all we need to do is draw upon each other’s strengths to help us fill in for the lack of it. Such an understanding can be a real game changer in team dynamics. 

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