I started my career, literally, as an undergraduate in college. Yep. I’ve basically been doing the exact same work since I was 18 years old. The formal starting point was when I participated in a course called the President’s Leadership Program. I was in the inaugural course and it was being facilitated by a woman named Barb, who I came to know as a preeminent facilitator, voracious learner, and way ahead of her time. Barb designed and facilitated a curriculum that covered interculturalism, leadership, and management, and in ways that connected the three topics. In the early 1990s, leadership, management, and what is now described as equity, diversity and inclusion were approached as wholly separate topics. The program included deep-dive explorations of culture and cultural identity, power and oppression, leadership philosophies, and a lot of self-assessment, role-playing, and simulations. In that year, I came to life intellectually.
My enthusiastic participation...
Life of George Washington–The farmer; painted by Stearns
Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!
Today is the day, in the United States, that we recognize and honor the life and legacy of Dr. King. It’s a day of reflection, service, and recommitment to enacting values that promote freedom, justice, and opportunity equitably afforded to all people. My hope is that you are actually pausing to reflect and appreciate all those, including but not limited to Dr. King, who was part of the incredible journey towards justice that we continue to enact.
There are countless ways to honor Dr. King’s legacy today. I’m sure your local community has activities that you can participate in. Or you can initiate a conversation with your children or friends. Or volunteer. Perhaps as importantly, my ask of you is to stay curious, pay attention, and practice stepping forward–not just in the face of blatant acts of bigotry. Sometimes the supposedly naive yet hurtful...
Everyone is “aware” - we all “know.” Over the last several years, society has been a part of a shared experience of becoming more “aware” - of racism, discrimination, misogyny and sexism, homophobia and transphobia, classism - the gamut of destructive ideologies. And as well-intended and necessary as awareness is, it’s been used so much, or overly prioritized with nothing supporting it, that it’s almost exhausted its meaning.
Cultural awareness is a fantastic first start…in 1995. We are in 2022, a time when basic understanding is not a special feat, and certainly not optional. We are constantly being fed with information that should be making us curious, incentivizing action. In contemporary workplaces, the expectation is even higher. Today’s workforce is demanding a new level of activism from their employers. They expect champions. Being a champion is exactly that, shifting from awareness and even a deep sense of care...
It’s necessary to focus on the experience of marginalized communities, not to obsess about “identity” as would be used as a pejorative in today’s constant cultural arguments, but to concretize the fact that marginalized communities don’t just have a different experience; in many instances, they have a different reality. There are universal human experiences that unite us all—the need for safety and security; desire for caring relationships.
There are also experiences of people from marginalized communities that are difficult to surmise, given the array of contexts and circumstances. Those experiences span history and multiple generations, involve systemic and societal constructs, and run the gamut of struggle and the human condition: oppression, discrimination, prejudice, abuse, despair, self-hate, isolation, paranoia, pressure, and frustration. In attempting to address the negative impact of this collection of experiences, we struggle to...
Endings help us encode. They provide a conclusion and embed the gift of finality, allowing the opportunity for new ideas, relationships, and seasons to be imagined, created, renewed, or reborn. But the beauty of endings only exists when they exercise their utility in being definitive. In other words, the endings have to actually happen, which is how most people or organizations find themselves stuck in an inevitable perpetual cycle of readdressing things that should have been put to rest. With a better understanding of endings, what they are, and how to utilize them effectively, we can finally take those steps of progression, elevate to our highest potential, and birth new beginnings.
"It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn't matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over."
― Paulo Coelho, The Zahir
"Anywhere where the humanity of people is undermined, anywhere where people are left in the dust, there we will find our cause."
Desmond Tutu died earlier this week. He was 90 years old. As I look at my office bookshelf, I see his books and think, how did this religious leader who lives on the other side of the planet find his way into my life? How did this man, living under such an oppressive regime, break through the systems of apartheid? How was he able to rise to his position of leadership as the first Black archbishop within the Anglican faith? How has he, despite the conservatism associated with his faith and geography, become such an ally for the LGBTQA++ communities?
Desmond Tutu has had such a profound impact on me, an outsized impact that goes beyond books and translates into my life.
Since March 2020, I have had hundreds of managers ask me the same question, "How can I nurture a genuine connection with my team in a virtual environment?" Even if some people are physically coming to work, in many cases entire teams are not. Or at least they aren’t all in the same space, at the same time, like during pre-Covid times.
My answer: You nurture a connection with a lot of intentional choices. Intention is about where you put your attention. Think about it, people are logging on from their homes. In the background, (your background and their immediate surroundings) are pets, children, contractors, laundry to be folded, plants to be watered, leftovers in the fridge. The distractions are endless. Nurturing a cohesive and engaged team, which is absolutely the role of managers, is more challenging than ever.
Your intentional practice begins with paying attention to how you are showing up. Are you intentionally setting aside other work, like open documents or...
In our coaching sessions, I often hear people say,
“I don’t need an ally, I need an advocate.”
I totally get it. They’re over, as many of us are, having people identify as quiet supporters. You know what I mean, people who genuinely care about us, or care about the same issues that we do, and offer to take us to coffee or reach out with a phone call when they think we could use a hand. In my experience, those kinds of gestures are often, as my daddy says, “a day late and a dollar short.”
Those expressions of care appear to be, at least, more about the person than about me, or you. If the interest was really in actively being a supporter of another person, the act wouldn’t be so hidden, so out of sight, or happen outside of the context in which we really could use it.
Actively being an ally and advocate is something important to grasp intellectually, but like so many things related to inclusive management and equity, diversity and...
Are you a new manager with ambition to help shape your organization's values-driven culture?
A seasoned practitioner who actively mentors colleagues who are earlier in their careers?
Are you a person who is passionate about authenticity and making space for new ideas and voices within the workplace?
Next Generation Leadership is far more than a slogan. Next Generation Leadership is the foundation to our vision as an organization. It's the vision we teach from. It is the framework, with seven distinctive characteristics, on which we have built our competencies we use to develop our programming and content.
Next Generation Leadership is our guidepost-directing the way for us and our clients to strive toward. As we enter the last leg of the year, a year with so much growth and change, we at DJA have begun to revisit our original vision framework and are excited to invite you along as we dive deep and explore...