Collaborative Leadership: Becoming Better Together
Hannah Gronowski Barnett
Founder, CEO | Generation Distinct
Every now and then, you experience one of those unique moments that feels sacred. It’s almost as if time stands still and, for a moment, the world seems just a little more hopeful, a little more beautiful, a little more unified.
That’s exactly what happened in Long Beach, California this past October. Fifty women from around the globe gathered and proclaimed that we really are “Better Together.” We said no to competition, comparison and judgement. We said no to shame, insecurity and counting ourselves out.
We said NO to fear.
Instead, we said yes to women supporting women.
We said yes to linking arms in unity.
We said yes to celebrating the wildly beautiful gifts that lie in each of us.
We said yes to cheering each other on as we blaze new trails in our world.
We said yes to creating a better world for the generations of women coming after us.
We said yes to partnering together to see the love of Jesus spread into our communities and neighborhoods and families and countries and world. We said yes to standing in solidarity. Because we’re so much better together.
It was beautiful. It was Danielle Strickland’s first Women Speakers Collective bootcamp.
The vision is simple. Danielle said, “After speaking at conferences around the country, I came to realize that something was missing. I asked the question, “Why are there so few women speakers?” I began to ask that question to the conference and church leaders I met with and I heard the same response from them all, ‘Where are they? We can’t find them.’ The Women Speakers Collective is an attempt to help.”
Danielle set out on a mission to train, empower and highlight exceptional women communicators. In the midst of the highly competitive speaker circuit, her vision was to create a collaborative community–rejecting competition and celebrating unity and diverse perspectives.
Teamwork and collaboration are not just for people who look like us, talk like us or come from a similar background as us. It’s for everyone.
Pastors can link arms with refugees. White can link arms with brown. CEOs can link arms with their employees. Men can link arms with women. Older generations can link arms with younger generations. We believe we can link arms across every divide because, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28.)
Who are you linking arms with? Who are you collaborating with? Who are you partnering with? And are they just like you?
There are two steps we can take to grow our ability to collaborate with individuals who are different from us.
1) Make Room
Each of us holds bias, whether positive or negative, toward others who are different than we are. Oftentimes, this bias is so unknown to us, it affects our decisions without us even knowing. If this bias continues to go unchecked, it can go on to affect the way we hire, empower volunteers and promote employees. The only way to confront our bias is to partner with people who are different. When we invite people, who are different from us into our decision processes, we are engaging in a broader, more robust perspective that creates room for every person to be noticed.
Is your board of directors ethnically diverse? Is your executive team comprised of only men or only women? Are your top leaders all from the same cultural background?
2) Give Credit to Other Perspectives
It’s not enough simply to ask the opinion of people who are different from you. You must also listen to their perspective and consider their advice. Don’t dismiss their opinion or convince yourself they just don’t understand the dynamics of your Team. Instead, receive their feedback. Take real action to address the concerns of the people you are inviting to share their perspective.
At the 2018 Global Leadership Summit, Danielle Strickland reminded us, “If we’re willing to listen to voices we don’t normally listen to and are willing to learn from them, it will change how we live.”
At the bootcamp, I learned that the best leaders will rise up, link arms, broaden our perspectives and use our voices to advocate for unity. Will you?