At last year's ATD-ROC Mini-conference, I asserted that equitable and inclusive leadership is a requirement! From my research, the following Inclusive leadership traits stand out; Cultural Intelligence, Effective collaboration, Emotional Intelligence, Courage, Empathy, and perspective-taking. While all traits are essential, they operate in a cluster; a leader's self-assessment and self-interrogation of these traits are critical.
In the development research phase for the mini-conference, and being steadfast in my learner mode, I discovered a golden nugget from Justin Woods's post on the Race+Emotions website. Woods lays out a cross walk between each of Daniel Goleman's 5-Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence as a necessary supplement to diversity and inclusion developmental opportunities. Woods is the Founder of Equity Social Venture. This statement that gave me a light-bulb moment became to topic for this blog: "the underdevelopment of emotional intelligence is a consistent barrier to taking action to advance inclusion, equity, and social justice."
The Institute of Health and Human Potential (IHHP) puts the definition in a nutshell: Emotional intelligence can be defined as recognizing, understanding, and managing our own emotions and recognizing, understanding and influencing the emotions of others. My first thought to the latter definition was so, is this mind control? The writers at IHHP brought additional clarity through this statement, "In practical terms, this means being aware that emotions can drive our behavior and impact people (positively and negatively) and learning how to manage those emotions-both our own and others." Whew! It is about taking personal responsibility and not manipulation.
I put forward that all levels of Leadership must enter into a personal development process with diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), and belonging- informed self-reflection and self-interrogation. Self-reflection in this context is the habit of deliberately paying attention to your own thoughts, emotions, decisions, and behaviors. Self-interrogation is going deeper-a type of questioning that gets to the crux of the issue and then untangles the roots. This work asks that you be gentle in the process but challenge yourself with what you find.
“To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the malady of the ignorant.” ~ Amos Bronson Alcott
I realize that this may be a lot to ask given this chasm of despair we have labeled as VUCA. Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity in our lives and those of our world neighbors is fraught with conscious and unconscious emotion. Built upon centuries and generational discrimination, injustice, inequality, bias, violence, abuse, and mistreatment, and more recently an increased in misinformation.
The multiple intersectionality of all of these challenges, coupled with the multiple intersectionality of human diversity and experience creates what appears to be an insurmountable challenge to individuals and organizations. Not enough of us, especially leaders at all levels of an organization, are prioritizing the time to process the endless and constant arrival of new information, moving us deeper and deeper into the chasm of hopelessness and despair. Leaders at all levels of an organization need to access their personal development in the DEI space. Often after the leaders commit to the importance of a focus and commitment to DEI, they assign someone else to do the actual "work." The actual "work" starts with self and the Leaders need to lead and model the way.
To be effective, leaders must have a solid understanding of how their emotions and actions affect the people around them. The better a leader relates to and works with others, the more successful he or she will be. Take the time to work on self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.
Since we (ATD) are a diverse collective of talent development people that I defined as teachers and learners, it would be easy for me to further augment your learning by giving you more information in this short essay. However, you will amplify your personal development if you assess these broader considerations. Your assignment if you decide to accept it, is to evaluate what strategies you would need to put into place for you to utilize this information either for yourself or your organization. Schedule deep reflection with self and then other thought partners in your circle. I want to hear what activities you would put into place, in addition to participating in an official or trademarked Inclusive Leadership training program, to develop emotional intelligence to break down the walls that are a barrier to advancing inclusion, equity, and social justice.
By the way, this is my first blog…ever! Based on my research, I may have broken a couple of Blogging “rules.” Oh, Freedom…Oh, freedom… Oh Freedom over me!