It’s Time for a Change
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

Last week, I wrote about the actions a person should take to get ahead in their job. This week, I would like to shift gears and look at what leaders need to do to get ahead. They need to change.

Last Thursday, I taught a brand new course from Maxwell Leadership. I had been through the Train-the-Trainer Program in March, so I was familiar with the content and expected this to be a routine process – spend a day focusing on the content, review the slide deck a few times, and run the class. Wow, was I in for a surprise. As I began reviewing the slide deck and participant guide, I was drawn deeper and deeper into the content. My prep time caused some very deep reflection and, at times, had me uncomfortable with who I have been in the past.

If you would have asked me if I was an inclusive leader, I would have answered ‘yes’ with certainty and confidence. I suppose to many, I was an inclusive leader, but as I worked through the materials, I was taken on a journey that took me at a completely new level. A much higher level. Let me explain with these four examples:

My Inner Circle – I have written quite a bit over the years about the need for an inner circle. Those trusted advisors who speak into our lives and tell us what we need to hear, and not only what we want to hear. Until Wednesday, I never took the time to evaluate if my inner circle was diverse enough to point out blind spots that I might have. Typically, our most trusted people tend to be just like us. I definitely need to work on this one.

Culturally Intelligent – Am I really interested in people for who they are, or am I more interested in what they can do to help me or my organization become more successful? Until I develop an attitude of wanting to know who they are as much as what they can do, I will never be able to connect on a level where they feel safe and valued as a person. An inclusive leader wants to know that everything is done in a way that is consistent with the values their team member embraces. The leader spends time equipping and resourcing them for personal and professional success.

Discovering my own Identity – As part of the class, each participant was asked to pick six or seven characteristics that describe them. For me, it was white male, husband, father, grandfather, conservative, Christian, etc. We were then asked to share a story when we were especially proud of one of our characteristics. Next, we were asked to share a story of something painful based on one of our chosen descriptors. When I got to this step in the participant guide, a very painful experience rushed into my head and heart. I had been stereotyped by a group and treated shamefully. Reflecting at a level that brought out such a strong and painful emotion drove home a critical fact. Am I sensitive enough to know if my actions, or the actions of my team, might be placing someone in a similar situation?

The Dynamics of Differences – I was raised by amazing parents and had the privilege of attending very diverse schools. I was taught to see, value, and accept the differences in others. As I worked my way through the class prep, I was challenged to see the world through the eyes of others and to work on building bridges others can cross so they can be fully integrated into our organizations.

I have written over 330 weekly posts. I don’t recall ever marketing a class through this medium; that is changing today. Inclusive Leadership is a must-attend class. The preparation opened my eyes and changed me. Last Thursday’s class went well, and I can’t wait to have you join me on this journey. It really is time for a change. If you’re interested in attending my next Inclusive Leadership class on August 3rd, you can register here.