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You belong here.

As a leader what do you do to literally, or figuratively put your arm around the people who come into your team and say, “Welcome to this (team, unit, tribe). You belong here. You have earned the right to be here and we are glad to have you as part of this group. Let me tell you what you can expect from me and your teammates and what is expected of you as a valued member of this team.”

As part of the conversation you can tell them stories about the mission, vision and values of that team and explain how they are now part of something bigger than themselves as a member of this group.

We are tribal as a result of our evolutionary process. We want to belong. We want to feel valued. We want to contribute to the tribe to help accomplish the greater good. As a leader you need to create that culture of inclusion and belonging. If people feel like they are outsiders they will not be invested in the team or it’s goals.

I have worked in areas where people did not feel a sense of belonging. It was more a culture of every person for himself or herself where people did not share information, resources or credit. In those environments people are quick to point the finger of blame and usually unwilling to stand up and own up and accept responsibility for their decisions, words and actions.

I have also worked in areas where people put their arm around you and made sure you felt that sense of belonging. That sense of belonging results in an environment where you do not want to let your team, your tribe, down. The fact that you earned the right to be there is just the start. You need to continue to do the work and continue to earn the right to be part of that tribe, as does everyone else on the team.

A culture of belonging does not happen by accident. It is intentionally built through stories, actions and leadership. A culture of belonging is not a one off hug; it is an ongoing, inclusive and never-ending process.

What are you doing to create and sustain a culture of belonging in your team?

Remember that leadership is a choice and a journey and it starts with you. Choose well, keep learning and enjoy the journey. The Dare to Be Great: Strategies for Creating a Culture of Leading online workshop was created for aspiring leaders and frontline leaders to help you on your leadership journey.

Brian Willis