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To read the first piece in this two-part series on culture of belonging, click here. 

Become what you want to attract

Let me bring this to life with an example.

When we are engaged, we do what needs to be done, we rock up to work, follow the rules, and complete our hours—all to start all over again the next day.

However, when we are inspired, we strive to be more, we approach life with enthusiasm, humility and gratitude.

We accomplish above and beyond our goals and thus help others to grow and develop.

We think independently, we experiment, and we learn from our mistakes.

We are more influential, and we provide positive feedback, recognition and rewards.

Whenever we feel empowered and confident about ourselves and the environment that we’re in, we feel like we have a voice, and we are heard.

We stand for what we believe in … where we are receptive, open-minded and open to new ideas and change.

But for this to come to fruition, we have to become the very leader we need to be to stand in our power, our light and our authentic self.

For some reason most leaders feel completed to do the opposite because they feel like they are not accepted and not approved of who they are, but when challenged with the question of “is there any real evidence to back up your narratives?”

Most of the time, the answer is ‘no’ it’s just a story that resides between the two ears.

Something very magical happens when we are inspired

Research from the Harvard Business Review suggests that employees who are satisfied with their work are 40 percent more productive than an unsatisfied one.

But an engaged employee is 44 percent more productive than a satisfied worker, and an employee who feels inspired at work is nearly 125 percent more effective than a satisfied one.

So, you are probably thinking‘What do we need to do to be a culture of belonging, right?’

The first thing that comes to mind is this quote from Stephen Covey “strength lies in differences, not in similarities”, which links back to being your authentic self.

As a culture, we first must get crystal clear and understand what is the meaning of belonging.

It is a feeling of safety, security and freedom.

When our brain doesn’t feel safe, it shuts down, and we show up in a very different light to how we want to be seen as a leader.

Thus, to feel safe, one must feel a sense of belonging where they can be their authentic self!

Belonging is virtuous for culture

Harvard Business Review states that if workers feel like they belong, companies reap substantial bottom-line benefits.

High belonging was linked to a whopping 56% increase in job performance, a 50% drop in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days.

For a 10,000-person company, this would result in annual savings of more than $52M.

Employees with higher workplace belonging also showed a 167% increase in their employer promoter score; their willingness to recommend their company to others.

Now … this should be a massive motivator as a point of focus.

When individuals feel like they belong, they are more engaged, inspired, and motivated, which links into enthusiasm, drive, passion, and devotion.

They go the extra mile because they are committed and connected to the organisation’s purpose, values, and vision and who doesn’t want that?

This, of course, equates to a rise in productivity, an increase in sales and happier customers.

Organisations should put their employees’ welfare first and advocate building a solid employee-centric work culture.

When individuals feel like they can be their authentic self, they will develop more creative ideas, innovations, and unique perspectives on how to resolve problems.

Or … make amends to any obstacles that stand in their way because they feel safe enough to take a chance and contribute because they belong.

If you don’t ask, you won’t get it

As an organisation, the best way to find out if your leaders feel a sense of belonging is to ask them and start with a survey.

If you don’t ask the question, you will never know, and there is no point in making assumptions because we all know where that leads to.

Even as simple as asking the below questions as a conversation starter;

  • What gives you a sense of belonging?
  • What does it mean to feel like you belong?
  • Where do you feel like you belong?

Don’t be surprised if it takes them a moment to respond, as it is probably something they have never had to think about before.

This is imperative for every organisation to think about.

It’s essential to start to act on it because the damage of a lack of belonging to an individual is heartbreaking.

You see, the truth is that they are their own worst critic, they self-sabotage their leadership attributes and qualities.

They second guess themselves all the time in fear of making a mistake or afraid of being found out as an imposter.

Leaders, cultures, and organisations should invite listening sessions, team feedback, and strategies to start creating the changes that they need to make for them to navigate these tricky workplace dynamics.

Leaders need to feel like they belong, connect and be a part of something they value, something that has meaning and purpose … and believes that they have the power to change.

The idea of belonging shouldn’t be considered a privilege available to only some leaders.

It should be regarded as a fundamental human right!