None of us were prepared for 2020. I don’t need to tell you that, I also don’t need to point out that a lot of us are feeling anxiety about what 2021 might bring. There is a concrete way to feel like you’re in control though. And for many of us, that’s the biggest thing we need right now.
You CAN become an inclusive leader so that no matter what social upheaval comes our way in 2021, you’ll be the person to lead the team through the experience. Any moments of sticky conversations and discomfort can be anticipated with excitement because they are opportunities for you to be the leader your organization needs.
Remember when Alexander Hamilton wished for a war? So he “could prove that he’s worth more than anyone bargained for”? (you sang that in your head, admit it) If you’re an organizational leader, excited to prove your worth and make an impact, social upheaval is the war you’ve been waiting for. Take up the mantle of General, and let’s go!
Have you started to become aware that you might be harboring your own unconscious bias and you’re wondering what it’s costing you (and your company)? Have you started to question things you’ve said and done, wondering if you’ve unintentionally hurt someone or been the reason for a toxic work culture? Good.
Yes, good for you. You’re starting the path of Emotional Intelligence. And it’s your ace in the hole to becoming an inclusive leader in 2021. At our foundation, we define Emotional Intelligence as “The intentional ability to observe our thoughts and actions, without judgment.” You are starting the first step, the observation. The next step is removing the judgment around it.
With Emotional Intelligence in place, you’ll start seeing micro-aggressions you’re committing, as well as those of your team members. Without the judgment, you’ll be able to remove the binary of “right” and “wrong”, which means no one will have that knee-jerk defensiveness that comes with managing people.
Let me give you a real-life example. My girlfriend and I went out to one of those fancy fondue restaurants to celebrate an anniversary. The waiter was nice and we had a wonderful romantic dinner, holding hands and being lovey-dovey. Everything was romantic and sweet for those two hours. Right up until the waiter brought us separate checks.
Yeah. That resulted in a much lower tip for him (bummer, given the time we’re living in) and we’ll probably never going back to that restaurant (bummer for the manager/owner). Now let’s just hypothetically say that his manager saw what happened.
First, the manager observed. Second, he didn’t judge the waiter as “a jerk”, “a homophobe”, “just plain wrong”, or even “redneck idiot”, which might have come from someone in our party. (me. I’m someone.)
With a lack of judgment, the manager is able to approach the waiter and teach him that while probably unintended, that’s exactly what a micro-aggression is and this is how it comes across. The server can also be taught the Emotional Intelligence skill of simply not assuming. He could have easily asked “One check or two?” and that would have been way less offensive.
It’s possible to lead without shame. It’s even possible to parent without shame. It’s possible and Emotional Intelligence is how you’ll get there.
Interested in evaluating your inclusive leadership for 2021? Check out this 5-question quiz, www.allyquiz.com