As culture consultants, we often hear clients express a desire for a more collaborative and inclusive workplace. One of the key strategies we emphasize is the constant checking of assumptions and aligning actions with company values, rather than relying on preconceived notions. In the workplace, this translates to stepping out of comfort zones and being open to new perspectives that come from our differences.
This lesson was brought vividly to my attention during my recent trip to India.
One of the things I treasure most is immersing myself in diverse cultures. This year we decided to explore India.
When I shared my plans to visit India with friends, I received a mix of reactions. Some expressed concern about feeling overwhelmed with all its hustle and bustle and as the most populated country in the world. One of the assumptions was that the hustle and bustle may interfere with the enjoyment of the trip. Every country I’ve visited has come with its own set of assumptions, but I’ve always made it a point to challenge them and approach the experience with an open mind.
During my last day in India, as I shared the highlights of this extraordinary trip with my travel companions, I repeatedly heard sentiments like:
- “I had no idea this country had such a rich and complex culture, with all the spectacular architecture, fortresses, and palaces with millions of gods and remarkable festivals”
- “Visiting Mumbai, a more modern city in India was an example of India, as a rising power on the world stage”
- “I’m grateful for the intimate connections I made with people in India, and how genuinely friendly they are.”
This enchanting trip to an ancient culture was filled with magic and surprises, leaving me with a wealth of knowledge and insight. It made me reflect on what leaders and teams can gain by leading with curiosity and embracing differences.
As I sat amid India’s vibrant culture, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to our own workplaces. How often do we let assumptions cloud our judgment? How many opportunities have we missed by not approaching situations with a fresh perspective? The experience reinforced my belief in the power of curiosity and reminded me of the potential for growth and innovation that comes with it.