E pluribus unum. It is one of the mottos of the USA and is on the country’s Great Seal. The translation of the Latin phrase translated is “Out of many, one” or “from many, noe.”And it is more than a question on a Latin or history quiz, it is the foundational principle that can help us build an inclusive team. Here are five ways to use this idea.
Welcome Difference, Create Commonality
There is a balance we must create if we want the best possible inclusive team. We want to welcome and celebrate the differences between people yet bind them together is the service of a purpose or mission. When the scales tip to the differences, exclusion and other negative behaviors grow. When the scale tips too far to the commonality side, difference is lost. An inclusive team is like a great dish on your dinner table. While we might want all the flavor in the pot to simmer together, the dish is best when the individual flavors can all still be tasted, admired, and appreciated.
Use Personal Strengths for Everyone’s Benefit
One of the best ways we can value our differences is by recognizing and leaning into each other’s strengths. Teams that support the discovery and use of individual strengths, beyond a role create a stronger whole without diminishing (in fact leveraging) individual differences.
Bring Different Perspectives to Problem Solving
One of the factors that leads to more effective problem solving and better solutions is starting from a wide range of possible solutions to consider. If everything thinks the same, has similar backgrounds and experiences, it is harder to create that thought diversity. Whether working with an intact inclusive team, or bringing new voices and perspectives to bear on a specific problem, when we bring different people together we can solve problems more effectively.
Allow for Options and Flexibility
Not all humans are the same – we have different experiences, values, and like different things. We all know that. Yet, too often organizations try to homogenize us once we join “the team.” When we allow for options and flexibility, we allow people to be themselves, express their individuality and in the process be more comfortable and productive. Yes, there are boundaries that apply in each situation, culture or organization, and those must be considered. Yet when we expand those boundaries within the scope of the mission to allow for greater flexibility for individuals we create a more inclusive and attractive team/organization.
Keep the “One” in Mind Always
As humans we want to belong to something. We want to be a part of something where we can make a contribution and make a difference. When we focus our one-ness on the mission and purpose, and not on how we look or think, you can create an inclusive team where people want to be. Staying clear and focused on purpose and mission is how to keep the one in mind and how we can create e pluribus unum for our teams.
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