Today is January 15th. We have just barely stepped into 2021.
This was going to be the year of healing...the year after the year COVID started its insidious overwhelm of the US and we all pivoted or scrambled or succumbed.
This was going to be the year of racial reckoning. Following months of racial stress and strife, exploding out of a 400-year history of slavery and subjugation and injustice.
This was going to be the year of calmer politics, post-Trump and a divided Congress.
And then...mayhem in DC on January 6th.
How do we as leaders prepare to respond to these apparently ceaseless and increasingly inflammatory events even as we work toward creating a healthier climate, healthier relationships, increased productivity in politics?
How do we, as leaders, interrupt the cycle of divisiveness and racism in our own lives, families, companies, and communities?
The Leadership Circle Profile (LCP), the 360 instrument we use as a developmental tool for ourselves and our clients, includes a creative dimension called "Courageous Authenticity". In essence, these behaviors point to the capacity to name the elephant in the room. And then to take action. It's not about being right and blaming others. It's about seeing patterns that others may be willfully blind to, choosing to ignore. In the LCP 360 instrument, reactive behaviors are also highlighted, behaviors like arrogance or autocratic that undermine our efforts to engage with others not like us.
Truth is that we all look for what is like us, what is similar, comfortable, expected. If we do so unconsciously, we limit ourselves and the possibilities. We may stop looking at the broader context, stop inviting the challenging conversation, restricting our lens and the landscape around us. We may stop trying to understand our opponent. Intent on being right and safe, we stop being curious about others or ourselves!
"This is the true cost of blindness: as long as it feels safer to do and say nothing, as long as keeping the peace feels more benign, abuse can continue." - Margaret Heffernan, Willful Blindness
If you want to shake it up a bit, here are a few suggestions you might courageously step into:
- Read Dr Larry Ward's short and incisive book published in Sept 2019 - America's Racial Karma
He suggests that in order to break centuries of racism, we all need to understand the stories we tell ourselves and each other, to recognize that we are trapped in reactive cycles. He shares ways to disengage from those patterns so that we "can discover the courage, connection, and imagination to embody a new world." https://www.amazon.com/s?k=larry+ward
- Take a measure of your own implicit biases
Take the Implicit Association Test, the IAT - since 1998, researchers have discovered that bias exists across all genders, ages, races, and ethnicities. Insightful and humbling. https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/
- Listen to Margaret Heffernan's interview following the release of her new book, Uncharted
She explores her perspective on preparing (vs planning) for the next (unexpected event) because it will happen (I heard this a few days before the DC riots on January 6 and thought to myself later, how prescient.) https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2020/09/09/embracing-the-uncertainty-of-a-pandemic
Consider what your courage looks like today as you lead your family, team, business, community into 2021.