I’m really excited about 2 classes I’m designing--one called “Race, Ethnicity, and Business,” the other called “Methods for Making and Measuring Impact.” The theme to both is how to future-proof strategy and how to create a vision for one's own role in meaningful success. Leadership is the act of balancing between the two, where you have the audacity to intuit something grander while embracing the precise steps required to enact that vision.
As I put together the class outline, I begin with a few questions --
Are you the leader you think you are?
What ideas are you leading with?
Whose framework of success are you using?
Are you the author of your vision?
What does your leadership create?
Notice I don’t ask about numbers. I’ve worked with more than one huge company that’s obsessed with numbers for their own sake. For example, a few years ago, I worked with an executive who could only articulate pride in quantity--They had reached tons of users, had a huge network, and an impressive array of celebrities endorsing their work (the founder is famous). But no one could articulate a vision for their creation. They had a mission statement on their website. But they weren’t really leading it, just pointing at it. So their (very impressive) numbers were just growth for the sake of growth.
When we design business strategy and organizational culture, we forget to include ourselves in the design. The “leader” I just referenced wasn’t leading at all. They were talking about an objective, but not embodying a vision. Leadership is lived.
If this sounds too far removed from impact and success, let me be clear: designing with intention will catapult your business. And including yourself in your design will catapult you into the best leader possible.
Frankly, in my experience, some people in “leadership” positions don’t want to lead.
When it comes to socio-politically pregnant topics--such as race, ethnicity, and holding your vision to impeccable standards through impact methods--I’ve seen more avoidance than embrace. This isn’t because people in leadership positions are all corrupted by the sweet nectar of power (an unfortunate, blanket assertion I’ve heard a lot). It’s because they simply don’t have that many answers. And that’s OK because their job isn’t to know--it’s to lead.
I’ll plop that same definition from the first paragraph right here: Leadership is the act of balancing between strategy and vision for meaningful success, where you have the audacity to intuit something grander while embracing the precise steps required to enact that vision.
And when it comes to race and ethnicity, it’s definitely not just a knowledge thing. Almost all of the people in leadership positions I’ve worked with carry a lot of shame around race, ethnicity, and other identity markers.
Hence the class I’ll be teaching. I don’t have all the answers. No one does. And when someone gets close, the culture changes--race and ethnicity are different in different parts of the world and over time. I write about that a lot elsewhere, so I won’t get into the details now, but science and history teach us that race and ethnicity are constantly in flux across the planet and across time. Same with impact and success. If this sounds a bit too philosophical, please rest assured I’m speaking from the research.
Who knows, maybe you’ll take one of my classes. I do love to teach. And you, it would appear, love to think and learn.
So get a jump start on class #1 and answer: What kind of leader are you?