This past week, my newsfeed was filled with video and commentary of an incident that occurred at Colorado State University. Two prospective students had come to CSU for an admission tour. They had traveled quite far to get there (driving over 7 hours), and arrived shortly after the tour had started. They joined the tour.
I can only imagine this scenario -- two young people who are excited to begin their college search journey. Driving with excitement to get there. Probably now a bit worried that they are late. And, just wanting to blend in and not make a scene.
Except, that was what triggered a parent on the tour to call the police because these teenagers (who were coming to their dream college tour) had made her nervous because they were so quiet.
I'm not going to write about my reaction to that, though. That's my other blog...
I want to focus on the way in which leadership matters.
Now, I don't know the President of CSU. But, I know all about communications and the need to put out an email or notification about an incident. I know what happens in that back room -- efforts to take just enough responsibility, but not too much. Efforts to be firm, but not so firm that it is meaningful. And, language that is progressive, but not so progressive as to spark conservative voices. I've been there.
So, it's refreshing to read a note from a university President that takes the time to take a stand.
This is precisely why I focus on identity-conscious leadership and coaching.
Though I don't know him, the words of this president seem genuine. He seems genuinely concerned by what happened to these two young men. And, he offers opportunities to make things right for the moment.
THEN, he acknowledges and validates that nothing about this should be normal or acceptable. He doesn't just stop with "let's offer them a paid trip back." He takes a stand to say that this is part of a larger system of injustice.
As I read his words, I am compelled to think, "He knows who he is."
That's what I mean by identity-conscious leadership.
Too often, leaders have risen to a level of stature because of their achievements or accolades. But, none of that matters if the leader does not know themselves. And, particularly in a climate where issues of race and identity (among others) are so salient, leaders must understand their own identities in the context of these issues.
I have spent too many years with too many leaders who have been successful at making big decisions, but who have failed to think through how those changes impact different identities and experiences.
Check out the letter here.
And, remember, Leadership Matters. How will you make sure that yours does, too?
Coaching is a process that can certainly help you begin to uncover your blocks related to action and activism. We can go deep to figure out how your own identity informs your leadership, and what possibly keeps you from engaging. Let's give it a try.
Sign up for a 20-minute introductory call to see if you are ready to engage in identity-conscious leadership!
Peace and gratitude,