That’s right. Uniformity isn’t necessarily unity. Diversity doesn’t mean unity either. Uniformity can be an attempt at putting up a show of unity. That doesn’t mean that organizations who have their people in uniforms and which adopt common practices aren’t united. The presence of diversity has often been trumpeted as a sign of unity. Catchphrases like “Unity in Diversity” are well known. Diversity doesn’t mean that unity is absent, nor does it signal that the company is united. Just as a glowing body and washboard abs doesn’t mean that the person to which that body belongs is actually healthy, uniformity does not denote unity of purpose or even full agreement on how to achieve that purpose. Compliance is not the same thing as obedience, for example. Neither is self-centeredness on the same level as initiative. If you develop abdominal pains, it doesn’t mean you have developed a peptic ulcer. You might have appendicitis, food poisoning or perhaps just too much gas in your system! Practical and effective leadership looks for root causes, not surface symptoms. Practical and effective leadership keeps on asking the “Why” questions much more than the “What” and “How”.
Stop looking for signs of unity in your organization, or worse, attempt to enforce it through some code of conduct. Codes of conduct are notorious for the unwritten code, which invariably says something like “Do whatever you want, just don’t get caught.” Just keep doing the things that foster unity in your organization on a daily basis, step back and see the fruits developing. Unity manifests in many ways, and not necessarily in the form of uniformity. Open your eyes and ears and discern when they are displayed. One big thing you can do is lead by example. Never ask your people to do things you wouldn’t do yourself, for one. Make the time to go to someone and ask about their work, their day, their family situation and just to get to know them better. You’ll find that pretty soon, staff will start becoming more and more united, as they see the bigger picture and go for mutually beneficial goals.
So, stop striving! Just Be. If you find that it doesn’t work, maybe you do need to take a hard look at whether you’re really a practical and effective leader, and do something about THAT!