Inclusive leadership: Take Your Traveller’s Mindset To Work

6 simple principles from the traveller’s mindset that could help us to create more inclusive workplaces

Something magical happens when we travel. Visiting places we’ve never been to before forces us to take a whole new perspective. Surrounded by different sounds, smells, people and places we start to question things we would normally take for granted; our curiosity is triggered; we want to learn and understand more. We ask people questions we probably would never ask at home. We find ourselves contemplating or even questioning our own values and behaviours.

One day into our holiday in Portugal this year, we decided to take a bus and explore some of the beaches further down the coast. After 5 minutes of waiting at the bus stop in the blistering heat, a lady approached us, shaking her head and talking quickly. She didn’t speak any English but it was obvious she had something important to share with us. After a few moments I recognized the word “greve” from French. The buses were on strike! We were grateful to the helpful stranger for saving us a long wait in the sun. But we were amazed when she took out her phone, called a taxi company, told them where we were and then handed me the phone so I could give my name and details of where we wanted to go.

Travel forces us to put our trust in the kindness of strangers. Whether asking for directions on the street or recommendations for where to eat, we have to constantly rely on others, many of whom might not even speak our language. Seeing people live their lives, chatting with a friend they met while doing the shopping, playing with their kids or helping a stranger: all of these experiences make it harder for us to hold onto the stereotypes we might have held before. Here are 6 simple principles from the traveller’s mindset that could help us to create more inclusive workplaces:

Open Up

Don’t be scared to reach out to others and ask for (or offer) help. When we stop believing that our way is best, or that we have all the answers we invite others in. When we start believing we can make a difference, regardless of how small that might be, we start to bridge gaps.

Be Curious

Have the courage to enter into the world of those you’re trying to understand by learning about their unique cultures, personal stories, customs, values and priorities. Actively seek out opportunities to engage with colleagues who you might normally never interact with.

Be Flexible

Often there is miscommunication and misunderstanding: things don’t always meet our expectations. It’s important to be able to adapt and be comfortable exploring the balance of “give and take”.

Take a different perspective

Look at the people and practices around you as though you’ve never seen them before. You’ll find yourself asking more and better questions, making deeper connections and opening up new opportunities.

Appreciate Diversity, Discover What We Share

Countries have different cultures, and people have different beliefs: in today’s global work environments this is more evident than ever. But we also have much in common. Appreciate the benefits that come with diverse opinions and ideas but don’t overlook the basic ways we’re the same.

Keep a Sense of Humour

One of the best ways to make sure that cross cultural mishaps don’t ruin your day is to approach them with a sense of humour. Laughing together and at yourself strengthens relationships and keeps the mind open for learning.