Posts tagged Leadership Development
Inclusive Leadership
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What Is Inclusive Leadership?

Inclusive leadership is a complicated topic. Leadership itself is multifaceted, and we've seen a change in leadership over time. Leadership used to be very focused on command-and-control. Then the concept of servant leadership came into vogue, where leadership was about service to the people that you were leading. I also love the concept of strength-based leadership, which is the notion of finding what drives each person and helping each person achieve their optimum potential within the team.

Inclusive leadership takes that one step further. It's not just finding people's individual strengths, but also creating an environment where everyone feels like they can bring their strengths to the table. And to be an inclusive leader, you must do that in a way that lifts everyone and empowers everyone to be who they are and to be "all in" at work.

Why Be an Inclusive Leader?

No one asks, "What are the advantages to being an exclusive leader?" Or, "What's the business case for hiring someone who can only work with a narrow subset of employees and customers?" It would be preposterous. There is no good "business case" for ignoring talent or good ideas that come from people who don't look like you. Similarly, there's no business case for turning away paying customers with a different understanding of the world. And yet, those are exactly the impacts we have if we don't actively seek to be inclusive as leaders.

Why Are Inclusive Leaders in Demand?

Current business trends include: diversity & inclusion; networking, especially via social media; increasing globalization; and the "gig" economy. The primary drivers for all of these trends are

  1. shifting workforce and consumer demographics

  2. rapidly advancing technology, and

  3. an increasingly global economy and workforce.

The result is that employers are competing to attract and retain the right talent for their organizations. At the same time, talented professionals are more diverse, more connected, and have more opportunities than ever before. Similarly, companies are competing for customers in emerging and niche markets all around the world, while consumers have greater access to both information and substitute goods and services. Acquiring talent is costly. Companies need leaders who know how to attract and retain talented individuals, no matter what they look like or where they come from.

Inclusive leadership requires self-reflection, patience, and vulnerability. It's not easy and doesn't happen overnight. The same can be said of nearly everything else that is worthwhile.

About the Author:

Amy C. Waninger, CEO of Lead at Any Level LLC, works with organizations that want to build diverse leadership bench strength for a sustainable competitive advantage. Learn more at www.LeadAtAnyLevel.com


Leadership IS Allyship
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Written by Amy C. Waninger , author of Network Beyond Bias

Do You Aspire to Be a Leader?

If you aspire to be a leader, you're not alone. So many corporate employees aspire to leadership roles in their organizations. They seek out high-profile projects, promotions, and executive sponsors. To really stand out in a company, though, you need to stand for something other than your own self-interest. Specifically, you can position yourself as a leader in your organization by being an ally to others.

You Have More Power Than You Realize

Many of us are tricked into thinking that because we marginalized in some way, we cannot (or need not) be allies for others. You have more power than you realize. You may lack privilege in some situations. But there are countless ways you may be taking your own privilege for granted.

Recognize Your Relative Power

I’ve compiled a list of examples, organized alphabetically, to help stimulate your thinking.

If you are… you can be an ally to…

  • Able-bodied … people with disabilities, chronic illness, chronic pain, and/or mobility issues

  • Black, Latinx, Asian, Native American … Each other

  • Cisgender … transgender and nonbinary individuals

  • Employed … people who are unemployed or underemployed, independent contractors

  • Female … men and nonbinary individuals

  • Gay or Lesbian … people who identify as bisexual/pansexual

  • Hearing … people who are deaf or hard of hearing

  • Heterosexual … LBGTQ individuals

  • High school or college graduate … someone without formal education

  • Industry insider … someone new to your company or industry

  • Literate … someone who cannot read

  • Male … women and nonbinary individuals

  • Middle- or upper-class … the poor, the working poor, people who are or who have been homeless

  • Millennial, Gen Z, Gen X, Boomers … Other generations

  • Native English speaker … someone for whom English is a second language

  • Neurotypical … people on the Autism spectrum, people with mental illness

  • Non-caregivers … people caring for adults with physical or intellectual disabilities, people caring for elderly parents or parents with dementia

  • Non-veterans … veterans and active-duty military personnel

  • Not in prison … people in prison or with a criminal record

  • Parent … people without children (and vice versa); partnered parents can also be allies to single parents

  • Safe at home … someone in an abusive relationship

  • Seeing … people who are blind

  • Sober … people with addictions to drugs, alcohol, or prescription painkillers

  • White … people of color

Be Honest with Yourself

Can you identify one or more areas where you have more power than others (in other words, privilege)? Is there an identity, experience, or demographic group that you’ve noticed has been belittled, bullied, ignored, or excluded in your workplace?

Now be honest. Have you contributed to this abuse in the past? Or have you been complicit by staying silent when you know abuse is taking place? You may have missed opportunities to be an ally in the past. You may not have recognized that you had a role to play.

Where to Begin

Begin your ally journey by reading books, blogs, or magazine articles from the perspective of someone with a marginalized identity, demographic, or experience. Do this often. Soon, you'll begin to see nuances in different people’s perceptions of the world from within a shared perspective.

Think critically about how different individuals would feel in the situations you’ve witnessed at work. You may not know yet how you will intervene in the future, but training yourself to recognize opportunities is a good start.

Build a Relationship

Next, imagine you’re having dinner with a famous person whose identity, experience, or demographics match those you seek to support. You would probably talk to them about their body of work, their family, their upcoming travel plans. You wouldn’t ask them to educate you about their experience of difference.

Now, can you imagine a similar conversation with a colleague? Invite them out for a cup of coffee and get to know them as a person.

Do the Work of a Leader

Finally, speak and act with courage. Leaders must be willing to do what is right, especially when doing so goes against the grain. When you speak up for others by addressing microaggressions or calling out blatant discrimination, you establish yourself as a person of integrity. Others will see you as a leader and an ally. And, in those times when you feel you are being cast aside, you might find that you have new champions who speak up for you.

After all, you’ll already have set an example for them to follow. And isn’t that what makes a leader?

Amy's passion is to help others develop their leadership skills and reach their full potential at work. She is am the Founder and CEO of Lead at Any Level LLC, and the author of the book Network Beyond Bias. She speaks and writes on leadership, diversity and inclusion, and career management.

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Living Corporate in the “Proverbial Closet”
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My introduction into corporate America’s version of diversity and inclusion in 2006 was at the pinnacle of my career in financial services. And boy, was it an eye-opening situation.

I was recently promoted from Personal Banker to District Manager within the company and was on cloud 9, to say the least. Overnight my salary more than doubled — and I no longer was responsible for a team of one but a team of nearly 200 individuals. On top of that, I had a book of business to manage that was valued at nearly one billion dollars. I was experiencing a series of “YO!” and “YIKES!” moments all at the same time. I was excited to walk into new territory but nervous to have so much authority.

Shortly thereafter my promotion, my manager nominated me to be a part of the company’s diversity council. This was a group of middle-managers and senior-level executives whose goal was to improve diversity and inclusion initiatives within the workplace. To say I was ecstatic is an understatement...until I received the application.

Let’s press pause right here for a quick background story.

During onboarding, my manager shared with a good friend of mine who also served as the recruiting liaison TMI (too much information). He expressed how excited he was that my promotion was approved because the residual effects of my promotion meant he was able to “check the box” of having a black, lesbian woman on his team.

Side note: Clearly another blog is needed to address “How to have Courageous Conversations as a Manager Leader.” What I know for sure is that his heart was pure, he simply lacked understanding. Only colleagues that I considered friends and this particular manager knew of my sexual orientation. But I digress.

Now, back to the application.

It captured the normal data like, age, religious belief, ethnicity, sexual orientation... <SAY WHAT?!?>

I freaked out! All I could think about was the fact that this application was asking wayyy to much and would reveal something that I did not care to share at the time.

I immediately called the Human Resources (HR) representative who spearheaded the council and explained my reservations about “outing” myself to peers and senior executives. See, my career was on a fast track. I had made Vice President by 27 in a predominately white-male industry. I was convinced I’d be committing career suicide if I shared my sexual orientation with the people I was being groomed to become their successor. The HR representative

reminded me that the very purpose of the council was to highlight occurrences like mine – to create a safe workplace for all team members. She also expressed confidently that my experiences as a young, black woman, who happened to be a lesbian, would be impactful.

What she shared with me was all well and good but...I wasn’t convinced!

I picked up the phone and called my sounding board, my big sister. She said something so profound that I’ve used as a guide ever since: “Kay, if your performance is overshadowed by who you love then you don’t want to work for that kind of company.” Man! My big sister was right! I completed the application with courage and ease. And at our first meeting we publicly identified gender, sexual orientation, all the other corporate taboos that once kept us bound. In that meeting, I entered the LGBTQ circle with pride.

Opposite to what I imagined, the reactions I received to “coming out” were warm and welcoming. I received hand written notes from fellow senior council members thanking me for sharing my personal experiences. They shared that our interactions helped them navigate courageous conversations within their line of business and at home.

I’m living proof that my life didn’t suffer because I shared my truth. As a matter of fact, my quality of life improved — there’s nothing like releasing emotional weight.

My career was unscathed, and I received several promotions since that defining moment not just professionally but personally. That moment fostered safe space for me to embrace my uniqueness which allowed me to fully express myself. My performance grew overall, and my team’s performance improved exponentially. As a result, several team members were promoted and secured sales and service trips! My whole team was winning.

“National Coming Out Day” is Thursday, October 11th. So, before you make the choice not to celebrate it, remember that day is a celebration of who you are—everywhere and every day. Better yet, every day can be a “National Coming Out Day” when you choose to truly bring your whole self everywhere.

What’s the moral of the story? The proverbial closet isn’t exclusive to the LGBTQ community. Your “closet” could be military status or mental illness. As a human being, you have the right and the privilege to bring your whole self everywhere, every day. Now, I share with you the same advice that was once given to me by my big sister, “if your performance is overshadowed by who you love then you don’t want to work for that kind of company.”

Adopt this quote and mantra that has served me well as you journey through life. “Be Yourself. Everyone Else Is Already Taken.” -- Oscar Wilde

Khaliah Guillory is on a quest to fuel her passion and fulfill her purpose. At the core, she is a Performance Productivity Expert, Lover of Humanity, and Philanthropist. These are a few words that describe her contribution to the universe.

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Your Personal Brand is Really Your Reputation | Your Power is in Your Story
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*Written while listening to "Everything" by Nas

"See 'cause you've never been the same as anyone else.

Don't think the same as anyone else."

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"Personal Branding" is not just social media or public speaking… in a corporate setting it is your "personal reputation" especially when you're not even in the room.  More importantly as an emerging leader, your personal reputation is assessed by both your own skills and results AND your ability to lead, coach, and amplify the work of others.

 

"Networking" is not about what you can G E T. It's about "building relationships" and "building connections" based on using your unique gifts.  More importantly as an emerging leader, think about how to use those gifts to G I V E and pour into others. Think about how to sow a seed that grows into fruit only if you are able to nurture and water that relationship consistently over time.

 

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For those who know me, thank you for your support.  It has empowered me to continue to P O U R into others up until this point.  For those who don't know me, My name is Osazuwa George Michael Okpamen. I'm the first of three boys born to pastors Michael and Christy Okpamen.  They came over to the United States from Benin City in Edo State, Nigeria over 30 years ago.  After giving birth to me in Dallas, Texas my family moved to Houston where my two younger brothers were born.  Growing up in Houston, I wasn't too proud of my Nigerian heritage. I can still vividly remember being made fun of and being called an “African Booty Scratcher.”  Even worse I was made fun of because of how I smelled. My Dad was a hustler who worked at the hospital during the day and sold stockfish at night. He would cut the fish I N S I D E the apartment.  If you've ever smelled any fish, let-alone stockfish, you know how it can seep into the fabric of your clothes. He was the number one supplier to all Nigerian restaurants and stores in Houston. Over time, my Dad had made a large enough profit to move our five-membered family from a small two bedroom apt in Houston to the middle-class suburb of Stafford, Texas.  He also became the assistant Pastor of one of the largest African Churches in Houston, Chapel of Praise. Fast forward a few years, My dad opened his own church, and I became a stand-out high school athlete who in my junior year of high school, had an epiphany about my family's history and legacy after traveling to Nigeria to meet my grandparents for the first time.  That trip changed my life forever.

Without that trip, I won’t turn down football scholarships to pursue pharmacy at the University of Houston.  If I don't F A I L to get into pharmacy school the first time, then I won’t get mentored by Rebecca, the president of SNPhA (Student National Pharmaceutical Association). If I don't get mentored by Rebecca for a full year, then I won’t realize the P R I V I L E G E of getting into pharmacy school on the second try across the street at Texas Southern University.  If I don't try to pay her back by running for SNPhA national office, then I can’t help more people behind me. Without running, I won’t win the election and have a P L A T F O R M to showcase my leadership skills and amplify the work of others.  Which means I won't get my rotation (internship) at the FDA, or my post-doctoral fellowship at Lilly, no "Ted Talk" for George, and most importantly no Living Corporate podcast to share my perspective on navigating a Fortune 200 company in corporate America.

Now, I could have easily introduced myself as George, listed out my schools, degrees, and shared a few key takeaways from the personal branding podcast.  But as the title says, your P O W E R is in your personal story. The stuff you won't find on your CV/resume, or on LinkedIn - your highs, your lows, your family background, why you were named what you were.  In essence, What makes you - Y O U?

In honor of me and Beyoncé's favorite number AND being the fourth guest on the show, I'll share FOUR quick takeaways to establishing a positive personal brand at work.

1.       Understand that your "personal brand" is really your "personal reputation" | It is what your colleagues think of you when they work on your team, how your manager talks about you to other managers in meetings, it is the perception your VP has of you when he runs into you in the elevator.

2.       Understand that "networking" is really "building connections" at least OR "building relationships" at best | Have a mentality to give first instead of get.  Also remember you are sowing a seed, so the fruit only grows if you nurture it consistently over time

3.       Take intentional time to reflect on your values, passions, and superpowers | It is this self-awareness that will allow you to understand how to be authentic about who you are, what you stand for, and what you are actually good at.  It also will allow you to be vulnerable with your weaknesses and give you the opportunity to show and demonstrate growth over time.

4.       Be Persistent and Consistent |  You will hear NO.  You will fall down.  You will fail. All of that is part of the process.  It is through these trials that you figure out who you are and find out how to leverage others.  You can only G R O W through what you G O through. It was the 21st call to CVS that got me my first pharmacy tech job.  That means there were 20 other "NO's" that were not the store I was supposed to work at in front of it. Imagine if I would have stopped calling at 19?  If you have a vision for what you want - GO after it.

The name Osazuwa translates to "God's Gift of Wealth".  And for the first ~17 years of my life I never really appreciated what that truly meant.  In meeting my grandparents, they let me know that "wealth" wasn't money in the literal sense.  It was that I was the first born and "gift" to the family. I brought "good fortune" and therefore had the responsibility to C R E A T E the legacy for future generations.  My gift was inside me the whole time and I was hiding it - ashamed because of what others saw, what others felt, what others said. This is very similar to what a lot of us do when we walk inside that corporate building.  We hide our gifts. If you take nothing else from this blog, my podcast, or the TedTalk - take this - "No one is Y O U, and that I S your P O W E R"

Own and tell your unique origin story.

Give first before expecting to get.

Operate in your gift.

"Go.  Go do what they say you couldn't.  Go be who they say you wouldn't. Go." - George Okpamen