137 – The Rules of Belonging | Ft. Fiona Robertson
A quick study of the self-help section at your local bookstore will reveal that vague guidance and banal platitudes have dominated team leadership literature in recent years. Fiona Robertson aims to pour concrete ideas around the concept of culture with her new book The Rules of Belonging. She strips away the pretentiousness and offers perspective on how ¨monkeys in shoes” somehow manage to navigate modern life.
1:41 Beyond the Buzzword
Anyone who has had a job that made them miserable understands that our work environment can affect every aspect of our lives. That’s why a high level of social awareness among your team members is so indispensable to your organization’s overall access. However, the concept of ¨culture¨ in a company can be surprisingly difficult to pin down. Robertson’s ¨Rules of Belonging¨ works to clearly define the traits of a positive work environment, as in the end ¨soft skills¨ are those that cushion a company culture.
2:52 Ancient Hardware
Although we have come a long way as a species, the fact is that we rely on basic hardware dating back thousands of years. Our internal worlds have developed in extremely divergent ways from the world around us, creating a kind of everyday dissonance. Belonging was once the only gateway to accessing necessities such as food, water, and shelter. However, in Robertson´s view social bonds are much less central to the success of individuals today.
4:08 The History of Earth in a Year
Compressing the yawning expanses of time that comprise the story of our home planet can help contextualize our place in it. For the first few months, Earth was actively hostile to life forms of any kind. The spring saw the emergence of simple, single-celled creatures. In stark contrast, Homo Sapiens emerged around noon December 31st, and our modern societies are more recent still. This temporal metaphor highlights the incredibly rapid pace of our advancement, and draws into question our ability to adapt over such short time frames.
5:26 A Species in Search of Answers
To this point, Robertson turns focus to the COVID crisis and the effects that social distancing measures are having on our mental health. Our minds, while complex in their own way, in the end serve a single purpose: to identify patterns that aid in our self-preservation. As social animals, picking up cues from other members of our species in their physical presence is a large part of that puzzle. In a time defined by crisis workarounds such as distance learning and video conferencing, the tools we use may no longer be suited to the world we inhabit.
14:58 Accentuate the Positive
The core insight in Roberton´s book is distilling the principles that rule our social lives into earning and losing the status of belonging. The most important job of an organizational leader is to maximize the belonging of an effective team member while minimizing the role of negative influence. This is done not only by direct methods, but by facilitating a shared interpretation of behaviors among colleagues. The actions that merit praise and garner respect in an office environment will propagate themselves, for better or worse.
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