“Everyone was just like me.”
When Michael Gates Gill, the author of How Starbucks Saved My Life, said that, it wasn’t a compliment. He recognized that everyone he had chosen to be around him – childhood friends, former colleagues from the advertising industry, and his social set – were just like him.
White. Wealthy. Privileged.
That’s why his job at Starbucks, working for a younger, black woman, was startling in more ways than one.
In the August series, Easy Fixes, we’re looking at simple ways to address everyday problems. Michael Gill’s comment demonstrates how diversity takes many forms. When you say “diversity”, it’s common to think of ethnicity, sexual orientation or economic background. But are you also exercising intellectual diversity?
By the time everyone was getting their first cup of coffee, the Operations staff was buzzing about the surprise executive announcement.
As Drew headed in from the parking garage, Susan was right behind him. She raised her eyebrows and whispered, “Lunch with Karim. Today.”
“Drew, you know Paula,” Susan said as they sat down. “What’s it like to work for her? Paula has a reputation at General Mills for running flawless teams. On the other hand, Johanna’s so relaxed. She stays out of our hair.”
Susan fidgeted. “Will our new VP change everything?”
“Not necessarily,” Drew said, trying to reassure her. “Ok, new leaders always want some things to change, but there’s a lot of good already happening.”
Karim looked puzzled. “I’m not following you. How can things change and stay the same?”
“All I’m saying is that one person isn’t all good and the other all bad. Ideally they can each bring their strengths and counter-balance the other person’s weaknesses.”
“Susan’s right – Johanna really trusts her leads. She relies on the three of us to manage our people and know when we need assistance. It’s just that sometimes she wants to have all the pieces fall into place before she engages. That’s hard in an uncertain world.”
“Paula’s the polar opposite. She’s successful because she immediately gets to the heart of the matter. Her solutions are creative and practical, but sometimes people can feel a little steamrolled as she jumps in.”
“They need to learn…I guess we all need to learn – that styles have to shift with the times. For example, as Directors, we need to know when to shut down a supply side problem before it effects the manufacturing line. At the same time, we have to have a sense for when to step back and let our food suppliers work out their supply chain issues.”
Drew shrugged his shoulders and smiled. “It’s definitely an art, not a science!”
When we’re in the flow with Spirit, complexity and ambiguity don’t scare us; we’re confident things are coming together. When the shadow side of the ego takes over, we’re looking for the instant “one size fits all” remedy – the moment everyone is just like us.
This week, curiosity is your friend – that’s your easy fix. Stay open to insights from the most unexpected places. You’ll know you’re successful when you hear yourself say, “I never thought of it that way!”