Updated: Jun 8, 2020
I have a theory. My theory is that we can lose ground in the cause of unity, pluralism, and love of our fellow man, because we are feeding the beast of fear.
#InspiringLeadership doesn't mean just being positive all the time -it also means soul searching, and living the values and mission of the organization and confronting in ourselves our deepest fears of loss, pain, and suffering. How can we all use our collective grief to heal and change how black and brown people in our organizations are treated? Black people make up 12% of the US population, but represent only 3.2% of senior leadership roles and only .08% of CEO roles in the Fortune 500. As a CEO myself, it's time to take a hard look at how racism impacts our elite consulting business, and how few black and brown executives are invested in for coaching and development. It is with both grief and hope that I reflect on how we confront our own deficits and contribute during this time of change.
There is a native American proverb about two wolves inside of every person. One wolf is terrifying- angry, fearful, snarling, ready to eat anything. One is caring, giving, peaceful and honorable. Which wolf do we feed?
If we do not speak up now for our black and brown brothers and sisters, when do we speak? The fear of reprisal, of change, of loss, of humiliation is enormous in a culture where people are regularly eviscerated for how they awkwardly phrase something or are recorded doing something unthinking and unintentionally offensive. We need to change because we are feeding the wrong wolf.
How do we feed that wolf of fear?
- By inaction
- By neglecting to search inside ourselves for what we know is true, good, and honorable
- By shaming, criticizing and trolling others
- By ignoring the injustices perpetrated on people of color systemically
How do we feed the wolf of honor?
- By cultivating our character strengths and virtues
- By acting on what we know to be right
- By treating all people with compassion and empathy
- By having the courage to examine ourselves and our systems for what must change
I wrote the book “Unfear” - now re-issued for a new era as “Inspiring Leadership for Uncertain Times” as a way to provide concrete tools to take our fear for the change agent that it might be…to learn to have discomfort and uncertainty propel us into a better way of being.
Here are steps suggested by HBR for healing racial inequities in our corporations: