Joerg Schmitz 0:08
Welcome to The Inclusive Leader Podcast. The practice of inclusive leadership enables us to tackle the complex challenges of our times. This is the space for conversations about inclusive leadership. I am your host Joerg Schmitz, and I welcome you to this episode.
Stephanie Froimovich-Hes 0:26
Hello, Joerg. Hello, everyone. It's a pleasure and an honor to participate in one of your podcasts. I will be interviewing you Joerg for the next 20 minutes or so my name is Stephanie from a retest, I'm a diversity, equity and inclusion specialist. I'm a sociologist by training, and I lead their Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consulting practice. I have 12 years of working experience in this field. And I've been working in France, the US, Malaysia, Chile, where I'm from. And here in Chile, I teach in a business school into executive education programs around this topic. And you're even though you've might not be aware, you've been my hero, mentor and source of inspiration during this past eight years, the time that we've met for the first time. And you've supported me with lots of time and good professional advice every time I've had a challenge. So it's very special to me to be the person interviewing you in one of your podcasts. So thank you very much for this invitation. And here we go. Great. So Joerg, tell us what do you do?
Joerg Schmitz 1:45
Well, I've been thinking, I mean, I knew that you would ask me this question. So I've been thinking a lot about it. Because the most What I enjoy most about what I do is the variability, literally, you know, I facilitate I design content, I curate content I, I kind of started this inclusive leadership institute as a, as a way of bringing all kinds of different activities, from learning to consulting, to thinking and doing research to writing together, and all these activities that I really enjoy. But if I had to summarize it, I think my work and my focus has always been on generating insights about culture, and a culture in the, in the human experience or to the human experience. And taking those insights and helping people apply those insights, or create some impact with them. So it's always been around somehow it's been around culture. It's around helping people understand culture, their own culture, the cultures of others, cultural dynamics, better, and turning them into actions or impulses to make a change. And that includes, by the way, areas of diversity, equity, inclusiveness, I've worked in that area for more than two decades. Prior to that a little bit in the area of intercultural effectiveness, helping organizations to figure out what it what it means to operate globally or in a global context. And this this idea of diversity, equity, and inclusiveness is it's very foundational to my my motivation, but it's also morphed into this focus on inclusive leadership. And that has become and this is why, you know, I essentially created the inclusive leadership institute, because under this umbrella of inclusive leadership, I am able to bring a lot of different topics and different aspects of my interest, you know, together and organize it in a way that hopefully helps make a positive change in the world.
Stephanie Froimovich-Hes 4:17
Yeah, and you're kind of partially asking my second question, that is the why Right? Like, what why do you do that? And why has this become the focus of your work your life, etc?
Joerg Schmitz 4:30
Yeah. That's also a great question. Now I'm struggling with how far back to go. But I do need to go actually far back because for most of us, what we do is rooted in who we are, and the circumstances of our upbringing of the choices that we make in life. And that's why also in these, these podcasts that I've done with faculty members, if you will, of the inclusive leadership institute recently, that's had been an important question to ask, right? Why do you do what what should you do? And now, I'll answer it for myself by going back, the you know, I mean, to how I grew up and the circumstance stances of my upbringing. So, as you can tell it, you know, of course, I'm from Germany, I grew up in, in, in Germany, in the well, I mean, I was born in 1965. So I grew up, I mean, I was shaped by the 70s, and certainly the 80s, in Germany. And there were a couple of interesting things about this. On one hand, Germany was still, you know, especially through the education system, wrestling with the aftermath of the Holocaust. And, to me, in a sense, this was the first impulse to focusing on Diversity, Equity, and inclusiveness even though back then nobody used these these words, but look, stepping back and looking at it. Now. This gave me kind of a real reason to stimulate reflection, introspection and just thinking about, what does it mean to be German in in the post world war two environment? And how do we turn this kind of historical sense of guilt into a constructive energy? And to me, this is actually a really, really important foundational motivational question, what is the response coming emerging from a history like that with, with our education system, making sure that we understand the history and the burden and the responsibility? The I would say, from a German perspective, the unique burden and responsibility that that engenders? And what do we do with that constructively? And so I've thought about these questions very early, you know, at least what I consider early in my high school years. This is also by the way, when we went out first, you know, learned about the Milgram experiment, or the blue eyes, brown eyes, Jane, Elliott's theory, these are all things that were part of our high school curriculum. And so So this was actually really powerful. But there were some other things happening at the same time as well. This was also the period of time when the children of what what in German would have been called guest Arbeiter, the guest workers that came usually from Turkey, some from Greece, Italy, as well, some from Spain, but primarily Turkey, you know, we're almost chordates to come to Germany to fill labor shortages. And but of course, you know, many people assumed, I mean, it's even in the, in the, in the word guestworker, the sub workers that are coming and their guests, so they're not, the expectation was not necessarily that they would stay, or that they would bring their families and make Germany their home. And in that there was already this, this is a dilemma of belonging today, we would put the lens of belonging over it, who belongs, what is our expectation about migration, or who, you know, identity, you know, all of these things, all of a sudden, religious diversity was, you know, came to Germany through this. And so we experienced the children of these guest workers to come into the high school. And so I saw, and this was really, this was a really groundbreaking insight for me, I would literally come out of a history lesson, where we learned about the social dynamics that led up to the Holocaust, and that make the Holocaust work, and immediately fall into similar patterns. When it came to the, the Turkish guest workers. I mean, there were only about I think, three in my class at this time, but treating them talk, how we would talk about them, we would view them. And I thought this is incredible, in a way right here we are learning about the dynamics that lead to persecution, and extermination, some of the most horrific experiences in history and, and here, and with the slogan, beware of the beginnings, which is a very important kind of slogan at this time, you know, and here we saw the beginnings of something then, and it was was this this, this gap, this gap between? It's, I guess, cognitive dissonance you would call it in psychology. that, that was evident. And I sat with that. And then I decided that I need to do something about this. And I started a little initiative, only three other students helped me or fellow students helped in that. And it was really an initiative to cultivate intercultural understanding, cultivate, reflect on what integration really means all of these words were used back then. But ultimately, it was all about inclusiveness, and inclusive leadership, even though those words were not available to me. So that's a that's, that's at the very, very foundation of my, of my interest. And there is one other element and I'm sorry, if this is a bit long winded, but you know, I think I had very good teachers with it thinking back. And what I also learned in, in history was the past the history of colonialism. Because when you when you wrestle with German history, and the history of the Holocaust, one thing that that that emerges very strongly is the ideology of race, and racialized identity, because that's, that's, that was the, if you will, the trick to insinuate to, quote unquote, Germans, that Jews were somehow a different category of human, right. And the dehumanization, that happens through it through artificially created categories of race, was really, this, how this works psychologically, was, was phenomenal. And then, of course, when you read into European history, and you study that a little bit, all of that was already part of the discussion in my high school, you know, that you then understand that these racialized categories and slavery was all justified through the socially constructed manipulations of the mind, that makes something that is in credibly artificial, and beneficial to only a small group of people, in this case, people that looked like me, that really benefited that group and exploited and justified the exploitation of so many others. And I think that awareness, you know, came really early for me in high school, and it never left me it was always the it was my motivation to say, what can I study that where I understand this better, and then I decided to study three things. I'm not, I never made it easy for myself. But I studied psychology, philosophy and anthropology, because I decided somehow in my own thinking that it is the combination of those three, in which there we find wisdom and actionable insights. Not in either one, I then decided to really focus on anthropology and make that my primary primary focus. Because I thought anthropology was best positioned, you know, to actually illuminate a little bit the, the dynamics and the cultural variability, and the context dependency of our cognition and our behavior as human beings. And that's why I ultimately studied anthropology and I and that lens of anthropology just never left me It's everything I do is somehow filtered through the lens of anthropological either perspectives or tools or methodologies.
Stephanie Froimovich-Hes 13:57
Yeah, it's, it's fascinating. I think what you're talking about your why because you were part of the privileged group. And I think that's still the the big challenge in the DEI space, right to how can we bring more people that have actually the power to say, there's something wrong going on and what can I do for others, and not just for myself, right.
Joerg Schmitz 14:22
Yeah, and therefore also for myself, right? I don't think that it's it's, it's such a clear distinction, which is sometimes what what worries me about some of these concepts in d&d and I like the idea of ally ship or four or so, not that these are inherently bad concepts, but they, I think they can have an undertone of that the the benefits the you know, that there is a clear action towards benefiting others, when in fact, it benefits everyone. This idea of privilege. I've wrestled with it. Well, because, again, I mean, when I, I mean, all of these elements were present when I grew up in my consciousness, but I, I didn't use these words, or I didn't didn't have those words back then. I just know how, I mean, just just literally lying in bed, I'm an only child, I have to say. So I spend a lot of my, a lot of time with myself and in my head. But, you know, feeling lucky, I wouldn't call it privilege but feeling lucky. And at the same time, guilty. And at the same time as I, as I traveled and spend time in other cultures, also not so privileged, you know, because when you know, and as an anthropologist, I spend some time, for example, in Yucatan, in Mexico, or, actually, I need to say in, in Yucatan, because the local the perception of local people of Yucatan is not, it's not that they're Mexican, right. So, but but among the Maya village villagers, and, you know, I traveled around, you know, Latin America, and Asia and so forth. And very often, I felt like, Oh, my God, I mean, there are traditions, there are communities that have a richness, in their social structure, and in their experience of life, that I somehow don't bring, yes, I break serial wealth, that in that bring a representative of a very dominant and powerful system that that encroaches on on the world and exploits them in that circumstance. But I missing a lot of aspects that that are present in other cultures. And so I, there's something that tells me this, we shouldn't use this idea of being privileged lightly.
Stephanie Froimovich-Hes 16:59
Yeah, and I think there's something that you said earlier about, it's not just helping others, it's also like focusing on the collective good or, or what's good for everyone, it's also good for myself, it's good
Joerg Schmitz 17:14
for myself, it's good for all of us, in the end, when we when we wrestle with these questions, and when we treat each other as carriers of wisdom and of, of aspects of capabilities of perspectives that the others are missing. And this is essentially, when you look at the world today, you can look at what can you learn from other traditions and other cultures and other other ways of being, if you will? Well, how can that enrich me? And how can my way of experiencing enrich others? And we need to do this mindful and consciously of power structures? Of course, but we shouldn't assume that, you know, it's simple, you know, it's nuanced. It's complex. It sits in its own context. And we need to create that context as well. And we can't just simply assume I'm privileged. Others aren't, you know, without, you know, understanding the context. In some contexts, my privilege matters more than in other contexts. And in some ways, I am not privileged. And in some contexts, my lack of privilege matters as well. Or, you know, so it's, it's, to me, the world is highly situational and contextual, I guess.
Stephanie Froimovich-Hes 18:34
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. How can we actually take all this wisdom and these ideas that are very maybe vague or general, right, to some actionable takeaways from this experience that you're mentioning?
Joerg Schmitz 18:51
Yeah, this is, I find that if you're able to really engage people around thinking about how they're perceiving the world, and opening up to other ways of maybe looking at the world, or perceiving something that is incredibly actionable. And the importance of that is, you know, it, to me, it's very actionable. I know that it doesn't necessarily meet the criteria of actionable bility in many business environments. For many people. actionable things are things they can do. But for me, oftentimes, the real change happens when we we we find pathways to being difference, being different in relationship with others, be connecting differently, you know, transforming how we think, and how we relate. That, to me is perhaps the most actionable element that doesn't usually get focused on as an action. Transformation is a change of who we are. And inclusive leadership for me or the pursuit of inclusive leadership is ultimately transformational to who we are as individuals, as organizations, as societies even. And to me, that's the most actionable thing of all. And we can do that without shifting perspective. And sometimes it's called awareness. And people don't give a lot of attention or thought to what awareness really means. To me, awareness is really consciousness. And a lot of the work that I do is about questioning, and elevating or developing consciousness. And not from the perspective of that somehow, I feel that my consciousness is so terribly developed. But it's more thinking about that, that, you know, all of our conscience that consciousness needs to be developed. And we need to support one another in that. And that's what I see as core in the inclusive leadership institute. What worries me sometimes is that the idea of inclusive leadership is treated as if it were, you know, already pre ready baked right in there's inclusive leadership. And there's other types of leadership. And I don't think that's true. I think inclusive leadership is a paradigm of leadership that is only slowly emerging that's unfinished. And that's what intrigues me about it. Because, you know, there is a lot of work to be done to bring this paradigm to life, make it real differentiated from other ways of thinking about leadership, and and crystallizing, and practice putting, putting it into practice, as a shifting of consciousness and leading from a different level of consciousness. And that consciousness has everything to do with understanding who we are in history, what we symbolize in history, finding agency that benefits others and benefits all of us ultimately, as we are tackling really big and significant challenges in this world, challenges that we haven't really had to face as humankind, right. We had to face some of them in isolated ways in our culture or histories. And that's what where we need to go to learn about these things, right. For example, when it comes to the, the climate crisis we are all facing, we should look at the Easter islands, I mean, you're in Chile. So this is a this is probably a really good, a good geographic reference. But, but if we want to understand what the true risk that we are facing in this climate crisis, and the nature of human created environmental change, which, which is nothing new in ecology, or so we should look at what happened to the, to the inhabitants of the Easter islands, and that historical, you know, context and, and we can we can learn some really great lessons there. Yeah, I
Stephanie Froimovich-Hes 23:17
love that historical perspective that you're putting to what's happening today, right? Because we tend to forget that the human history is long, and we've been struggling and battling through things. Again, and again, right, like this racism that you're mentioning, and how to transform guilt into something actionable. I think there are solutions in history that I think now with, with the maybe insane amount of information, having the curated lens that we are offering, to me is so so important, right? Because we tend to forget actually what has happened in history and the things that have been useful to solve those crisis.
Joerg Schmitz 24:04
Yeah, the things that have been useful, and the things that have not, right, the the issues. Yeah, yes, exactly. And you know, what is so important in what you said, this idea of a curated lens? Because we are swimming in information? And we mean data, and in fact, we're compiling more and more data. But what do we do with this data? How do we interpret it? How do we use it to inform our decision making? How do we make sure that it improves things right, and, and isn't just a one cycle of reactive reactiveness that we are we're engaging in. So with more information with more data with more insights. We need a curated lens on how we interpret and how we make sense out of all of that, and that needs to be done. With certain principles, and, and that's where, again, it leads me back to inclusive leadership. Because the human history gives us multiple examples of divisiveness and divisiveness and polarization. And, and we can afford to be divisive and polarized in tackling the next level challenges that we are facing. And we need to overcome the legacies of division and polarization. And again, that's where we can look into history. Where can we learn something about that? Well, for example, we could look at South Africa as a really interesting example, and especially Truth and Reconciliation, how South Africa, approach this, and we could learn those lessons and import them into other cultural environments where that is direly needed, or will be scary, such as currently in, in what's happening in the Ukraine, you know, so we can treat the diversity of historical experiences around the world as as a repertoire of solutions to very human problems. You know, if you want to learn something about innovation and ingenuity, go to work. It's a terrible term that I really don't like, but look at what many developing nations have done, and people in developing nations have done under severe resource crunch constraints, the innovation that flourishes even in small ways in under those conditions. It's amazing. So we can learn something about what does it take around innovation, if we want to learn about resilience? Well, resilience, sometimes it seems like, you know, a buzzword and all of a sudden companies are, are discovering these words like agility, or resilience or so. But, you know, there are populations in the world that have had that happen to be extremely resilient throughout history. So what can we learn from, for example, the from Indian culture around resilience? What can we learn about African cultures around resilience? What can we learn about Jewish culture, around historical resilience? And how can we inform and augment and strengthen our own cultural environments with those learnings and insights, and I think we haven't really even started to treat human diversity as a repertoire of wisdom, and solutions to a whole host of problems.
Stephanie Froimovich-Hes 27:47
I love this combination of cross pollenization that I think you're trying to write to describe, and at the same time to give voice to people on the ground that own these ideas, or that, you know, because I feel this support, this network of support that you have, in what you're trying to create is also very diverse from different parts of the world. Right? So you're also giving voice to people that can explain deeper and with all the complexity that it deserves, right? So I think it's an amazing balance between these two objectives that I find it fascinating personally.
Joerg Schmitz 28:29
Well, you know, thank you for for resonating with that. And for me, this is only the starting point because, for example, voice voices of indigenous populations need to be elevated and explored. Right, that's that's under under explored I believe, right. But then we also need to you know, if already if you look at the lineup especially for the first you know, series of of what we do at the inclusive leadership institute, we tackled so many different topics, you know, from power to people with disabilities, which by the way is also something that is anchored in my in my past very personally, I am a conscientious objector to the military service in Germany, which was compulsory when I was growing up and and I spent two years in, you know, assisting you know, people with with with physical disabilities and navigate the world and not only was this one of the most impactful experiences I've had, but it's it also demonstrated the enormous bias and lack of opportunities for people with disabilities. So we talked about this a little bit in the first series, we talked about, you know, language English. You know, both of us are non native speakers of English here and we're using English as the medium to have this conversation. And this to me is an underappreciated elements that the world in a way is using English increasingly, and that favors native speakers a little bit. And doesn't non native speakers and, and even if your English is fairly good and you're, you're relatively fluent, you still navigate as a non native speaker, this interesting intersection between language or English and culture and, and oftentimes leadership or management, given whatever role you have in your organizations or what you do. And there isn't a lot of attention being placed on, on, on where on the point where these three elements come together, because it's in, it's in those intersections that careers are made, and opportunities are created, or not. Right. So. So that's an important thing to focus on a little bit. And we focused on, on so many other elements around psychological safety, around belonging around power, and the use of power negotiation. So so and we will continue that exploration, especially around gender and gender identity, that's something that will focus on more than any other socially constructed categories with which we other ourselves and others, and we slice up the social world and create really painful realities as a result.
Stephanie Froimovich-Hes 31:32
Well. It's, I think, an amazing presentation to get to know you a little bit Joerg, I have many other questions that maybe are more focused into the actual, how do you actually turn these into this gain of consciousness and be the tactical examples right? Of, of how can this be applied in our organization? Yes, huge variety of organizations, right? Is there any story that we're missing, that is very impactful in in your career? Because you mentioned a couple, right, that really shaped why you do what you do and the way you work? Right? Is there any other story or life experience that you would like to share?
Joerg Schmitz 32:24
There are so many stories, actually, when I think about it, and it's always it's always balance, you know, what, what story is most impactful. But I think the story that I can tell most authentically is maybe my own story. And I always find, find myself conflicted around this. And I'll tell two quick stories. The first is, as I was growing up, and I described this a little bit, I also struggled significantly with with it today, we would call belonging, right, I was harassed and teased a lot as a as a, at the same time that I was going through my school years. And I never felt very, very much that I was part of my social group in a sentence or the people that I was interacting with. And there were very big differences in that I encountered early on, like, I was never interested in soccer or football, I mean, whatever you want to call it, that a lot of the these stereotypical male activities or male ways of bonding and identifying, I couldn't relate to. And my way of doing this was different from how other people have dealt with this. And I did not assimilate in a certain way, I didn't just pretend to relate these things and in order to be accepted, I actually used it as a as a as a sense that of authenticity of really saying, Okay, this is me, and, you know, live with it, I have to live with it. Other people have to live with it. And I never made big attempts to fit in or to fit into these, these stereotypes. This is actually interesting when one of the people on our team told me that when I show up, I mean, today, I'm representing the stereotypical middle aged white male that people are talking about so often. And, and she was basically talking about what, what it means to her. When I visually show up this way. I mean, in meetings, being being myself and I've become a symbolism if people don't know me, too well. I've become a symbolism of the normative power, you know, in society and organizations and I've never perceived myself that way. You know, because also mentally I was, I was in a different space around all these topics and and thinking about this, but I never personalized it to that level. And when I then became aware that what I might represent visually, to people, and the big gap to my, what I feel on the inside, and what is happening on the inside, and my own struggles with gender identity, for example, that, to me is probably the most profound ongoing experience that I like to keep learning from on a daily basis. And so, so it's just to illustrate that I don't think there is a a singular up story as an event that happened, but the story of my own identity, and experience social experiences, that isn't an ongoing story that I learned from, and that inspires me. You know, and one of the things that I wanted to morrow, for example, is, is engaged in, in reflection, and for men about what it means to be a man at work. Because men usually don't have to think about their gender at work. Women, of course, do all the time. And, and why not? Why don't we talk about what does it mean to be a man at work? And, and what is the male experience of work? Because I think only when we really uncover and deepen our reflection, can we actually create a more gender inclusive? Environment? Yeah,
Stephanie Froimovich-Hes 36:40
that resonates a lot. And what you were saying at the beginning about this work being contextual and situational, right? Because this identity, dissonance or gap that you mentioned, I think, changes a lot. If you're with a group of middle age, Germans in Germany, right? All same gender, all from the same local area, etc, you will feel quite different, maybe not perceived that way. Absolutely. On their side, right. But if you move them to maybe another context, then those other characteristics become quite salient. Right?
Joerg Schmitz 37:19
Absolutely. And, and that's why this is so situational and contextual, I have to say that I struggle the most with identity when I am among German males. Which is actually which might seem seem, you know, curious to somebody it's given, given kind of my background and my experiences, that's probably makes sense. But those are precisely the dynamics that when we are willing to disclose those things, and connect with each other around these, these insecurities, and our our own evolving identity, then then we actually build much deeper connections and relationships, which is what it's all about in the end, right?
Stephanie Froimovich-Hes 38:05
Yeah, yeah. And having vocabulary also to name those dynamics, because I think it's a common experience to have the dissonance maybe with different dimensions or, like, different sensitivities. Right. But that awareness that brings language, I think it's it's very interesting as well,
Joerg Schmitz 38:25
yes. And that's why we need to expect an unknown speaking about I mean, I'm always troubled and I mean, by nature, I'm probably a rather questioning or discontent individual because, you know, any discipline that I've worked in, I ultimately took a very critical view of and hopefully constructively critical to move it ahead. For example, in the intercultural field, I never liked this strong validation of nationality as a, as a way to understand cultural diversity around the world, because to me, nationality is tied to a political boundary system and power dimension, and not necessarily about some, you know, a cultural unity, you know, when we, when we project cultural unity, onto a political construct, then then we might make a really bad mistake, and we lose nuance. So we need to be very careful with the language that we use and the categories that we use to, to reason. But shifting consciousness means that we shift language. So the introduction of new language needs to also be carefully done. And in the DNI space, for example, there's oftentimes I think, a an imposition of language and words, that we don't pay enough attention to the process of helping people adopt a different language understand why and what's behind Did we are too often coming from a sense of moral superiority, and and ultimately expecting a sense of compliance with certain words or new conventions? And of course, that creates backlash. And, and but do we know how to then engage with a bash backlash constructively? And that's an inclusive leadership skill?
Stephanie Froimovich-Hes 40:22
Yeah, I think that curated process in in using certain words and not others is also a skill, right? Yes, it might not be visible, but it's a thoughtful skill that I think when you work in a language, that it's not your own. I think there's a value added in that consciousness,
Joerg Schmitz 40:44
right? Yes, for sure. For sure, you know, that is on that sits on top of this, right? So. So now we're also doing this. In English. Oftentimes, we're doing something to people who, you know, have different types of relationships and comfort level and confidence level in English. And we're not spending enough time in this process of explaining, exploring, relate, relating, integrating internalizing, which is why I think we need to think more like facilitators, oftentimes, in bringing about change, then, you know, then then then advocates or activists.
Stephanie Froimovich-Hes 41:31
So Joerg, why did you decide to create an institute?
Joerg Schmitz 41:38
It's a, it's a great question. And as you know, I've, I've worked in a number of consulting firms, and by an institute, what I would have always so so what I've always wanted to do is, besides consulting, which I, which I really like, because it helps it feeds off my, my anthropological training, and especially, you know, doing what I call, you know, Context Sensitive consulting. But I thought around this topic of inclusiveness, and obviously, also the topic of equity, diversity, and belonging, all the things that that, you know, we are encircling here, there is so much there, it's an emerging field of knowledge. It's not, we're not sitting on something that is kind of ready, that is finished or ready baked. And for me, and Institute is exactly the type of environment that enables us to do some thought leadership, yes, to also build solutions. But sometimes this the problem needs to be understood better, before we build solution, so there is the opportunity for engaging in research in moving, moving different different fields forward, moving knowledge forward, learning from practice. So I see this institute really as a space, which is why the logo that hopefully looks like a three dimensional space of bringing together practitioner knowledge. And practitioner can mean the people with with specific skills oriented practice oriented knowledge, academics, who are doing interesting research and bring a different experience and a different, different way of understanding and relating to a problem. And, of course, leaders in organizations together to really shape the emerging knowledge around in building truly inclusive environments. And I believe that while we know a lot about it, then we are also just beginning to learn, especially when you think about the global scope, that we maybe for the first time in human history, we're looking at a global scope of, of building inclusive environments around the full spectrum of human diversity, which is also evolving, and is dynamically changing in response to whatever happens in our societies. So so this is not an easy, this is not a field where we can we can just use existing knowledge and solutions. And I thought that an institute that brings together those different voices, different strands of perspectives, and tries to make sense out of those things in context sensitive ways was was what is what is truly needed in this space.
Stephanie Froimovich-Hes 44:45
Thanks so much for explaining me this. This question because I find it crucial to understand a little bit in more depth. This, you know, huge project that that you're building and that relates to Another question, which is why focusing on leadership? And not necessarily, for example, culture change us whole thinking more broadly in organizations?
Joerg Schmitz 45:13
Yeah. And, and it could have been, right, some sort of a culture change Institute, cultural transformation Institute. But somehow I mean, I think there is a certain, you know, personal appeal to the idea of inclusive leadership that I've always felt ever since, kind of that that idea emerged in my work. But the, the real core is the insight, that it is leaders who are significantly creating, shaping, changing, maintaining sustaining culture, there is actually a very close relationship, culture reside somewhere in the shadow of what leaders do. Leaders cannot not create culture, as I oftentimes say. And leadership is distributed in an organization as well, it's not necessarily embodied in one person or in a, you know, in a group of elevated people, which is what people oftentimes think, which is why I'm less focused on inclusive leaders, as individuals, and more focused on inclusive leadership, which I see more as a process. That's it's an interaction, it's a relationship. It's not a set of characteristics of an individual. And we all to more or lesser degrees, participate in inclusive leadership. Or perhaps we it's not inclusive at all, maybe we are participants in divisive leadership, or a polarizing leadership. But leadership is a process and the relationship that we somehow are implicated in all of us, then the aspiration of making that inclusive, to me is really important. So I hope that the work in the institute is not just about not defaulting on leadership as for leaders, but as if leaders were resided outside of context, but the process and the dynamics and the relational aspects of, of leadership, and what makes it inclusive and what doesn't make it inclusive. So there's a personal intrigue in this notion. If you think of the work of Edgar Schein just around the connection of leadership organizations and culture, it's such an important element. And that's the lever of true cultural change or transformation. Namely, the idea of Leadership and Learning also, that true, sustained cultural transformation requires inclusive leadership. So to me, it's actually the secret sauce that makes cultural transformation and cultural change work. And in a way, it is a different way of, of using the insights that Margaret Mead, and anthropologists articulated, right, that and I'm butchering her quote right now, but that change in the world has always come about through a small group of committed people. And it is it is the interaction within that group, whatever, however that group exists, and the group within the wider social context that makes social change happen. And so, so inclusive leadership is to me an aspiration. It's also the secret sauce of what needs to drive the kind of change that we need at this time in history. That's
Stephanie Froimovich-Hes 48:57
fantastic. Joerg. So insightful and inspiring at the same time. Thank you so much.
Joerg Schmitz 49:04
Thank you, Stefan.
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