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Bridges Can Always Stretch Over Walls

By Peter Holmark, HR Director Customer Operations Europe, Nokia

There seems to be a world frenzy around walls these days – physical ones, trade ones and group thinking ones. It’s understandable as walls are easy to build: Plan it all, draw a line in the sand and start piling up the bricks. Or enjoy the metaphorical ones as they rise and shelter you from what initially seems unpleasant, new and worldview changing.

Walls are simple two dimensional solutions to often complex multidimensional problems and make them simpler. That’s why in times of change many leaders turn to build them or don’t stop the teams they lead in their tracks collecting the bricks.

The basic human fear instinct that has helped keeping us alive and develop through generations, gives a positive bias pro wall building: It reduces the risk of physical harm and contamination and it gives an illusion of better control by reducing the land you oversee. Playing on those exact same dimensions, when describing what’s outside the walls, can reinforce the polarization very effectively. Just look for the ‘us versus them’ or the inflation of single tragic events in news outlets and in communication from certain types of leaders - its easy to spot these days as news travel far and these kind of news travel fast.

"Walls are simple two dimensional solutions to often complex multidimensional problems and make them simpler"

Wall building is understandable, but acceptable behaviors for modern leaders and helpful for the teams they lead? I don’t think so.

So wall building as physical or mental constructs are understandable, but are they acceptable behaviours for modern leaders and helpful for the teams they lead? I don’t think so.

Modern leaders are bridge builders. They build bridges that help their teams go from status quo to what will bring better future success. Bridges that put themselves and their teams on a discovery journey fuelled by a growth mindset to explore new areas, meet new partners and see a bigger part of the eco system they know they are part of. And they build bridges with dual carriageways so others can also learn from their world and experiences.

These leaders make a conscious decision to go against the basic human instinct of fear. They do so

1. Because the wisdom from the wider eco system, when put together, enables them to build something that’s bigger and more valuable than what can be constructed with just their own bricks.

2. By taking a brain-friendly and humanistic approach to change. They coach and enable their teams on highly individualised courageous journeys on airy bridges.

3. As they have an optimistic view of the future fueled by an informed true understanding of the great progress we already have made. They practice Factfulness as Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund refer to in their book

It’s a choice to make to raise to the challenge and build bridges instead of walls. And its an art to build a bridge from both sides at the same time!

#WhenIwas15 I wanted to be a bridge builder. With whom will you build your next bridge?

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