We are one - The age of ‘we’ versus self-interest

By Lorraine Flower (2021)

 I was reading this article in the Guardian reflecting on the need for everyone to move toward a ‘we’ mind-set rather than one of self interest if we are to navigate the global crises facing our world today. Aside from any political motives, it brings to the fore key principles that are hopefully becoming more evident to everyone; we are all fundamentally interconnected, we cannot solve problems in isolation, cooperation and caring for each other is about more than ‘clapping for carers’, it requires a fundamental shift in core values.

The self interest gene is inevitably triggered when our very survival is threatened and this is true in all areas of life – personal, family, business, organisationally…and here is where the new thinking is required. If, as leaders, we can elevate our vision and indeed our values to a new level of ‘we’, then we will start to bring forward ideas, solutions and behaviours that benefit a larger whole beyond our own backyard.

This may mean going to the core of what the organisation produces and its contribution to the world – asking the question, ‘does what we do really matter to this current world and if it doesn’t how can we become more relevant and useful?’ It may mean a deep overhaul of leadership behaviours to create a genuine and deeply rooted practise focused on well-being, care for all, generating creative dialogue and inspiring new actions and responsibility focused around an empowered and inspiring purpose. In other words, balancing an over-developed need for control and management with a true focus on seeing, nurturing and releasing the latent capability and quality within the workforce.

A ‘we’ mind-set does not negate the importance of individual contribution; in fact it emphasises the need for each of us to be the best we can be. The ‘we’ mind-set relies on quality and full contribution and seeks to leverage that across a larger landscape – across more people, bigger challenges and opportunities, and above all requires a deep belief that by working for and with each other we improve the quality of life for all.

The ‘we’ mind-set is about more than collaboration or playing nicely together though these are important. It strikes at the heart of whether we believe we are connected one and all and that in that interconnection lies both the beauty and the quality that underpins human existence. 

Where does the ‘we’ mind-set show up in your organisation culture and how could you advance it further?   


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