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As more of us become vaccinated, our conversations include mentions of reunions with family and friends and much needed breaks from lock-down. We are excited to visit the places we have not seen since March of 2020 and many of us are discussing the personal changes we would like to make. The changes may include new boundaries to establish in relationships, a stronger confident voice to advocate for yourself or others or even pandemic-hobbies or routines that have served as a respite during moments of difficulty or to break up the monotony of each day. Personally, I’ve spent time reflecting on what will actually change; what have we really learned? And especially today on the anniversary of George Floyd’s death, I challenge us all to continue to hold ourselves, our leaders and institutions accountable to long-term systemic change.
Today, I’ll be delivering a leadership development training where we will start the session off discussing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. This particular cohort started in October of 2020. I realized quickly when we started how familiar the participants were with our virtual meeting platform and how they had adapted to working from home. There was a clear difference in this cohort compared to the first all-virtual cohort that started in May of 2020. In May of 2020, we were still thinking there was a chance we could be in-person by August. This reminded me that humans can adapt to change quickly particularly when we understand why the change is necessary.
This makes me think of the many conversations I’ve had with clients and colleagues lately about systemic change in government, corporations and in education. Similar to the leadership development trainings I’ve delivered over many years, change is more likely to happen when self-awareness occurs. When we understand why a change is necessary through reflection, we begin to create a new vision for ourselves. As an individual, you must understand your strengths and weakness, your motivations and your response to conflict. By understanding your personal and professional experiences and how they have shaped you, you will improve your ability to manage your response to difficult situations and ultimately grow as an individual.
Last month I completed Santa Clara University’s Silicon Valley Executive Center’s Black Corporate Board Readiness program. The opportunity to be part of such an accomplished cohort and to be mentored by titans of industry was truly humbling. Don’t let anyone tell you there is a diversity pipeline problem. There are many qualified diverse candidates ready to serve as governance leaders in private and public boards. The Securities and Exchange Commission recently approved the proposal for NASDAQ-listed companies to meet certain minimum gender and ethnic diversity targets on their boards (article). This is without a doubt a move in the right direction.
Our team recently completed a nonprofit engagement that led us to consider various nonhierarchical organizational structures and operating models. From someone that has worked in large institutions for the majority of her life, I must admit I had to shake off a lot of habits and ways of thinking to get this work right. In building our recommendations we focused on ways to embed ownership and alignment in an organization without the use of familiar industrial revolution best practices (i.e., power over people, process and policy dependence). These non-hierarchical ways include self-management processes and principles, developing an organizational higher purpose and collaborative decision-making. If you’d like to dip your toe in the non-hierarchical waters, here are resources I recommend: the Collaborative Operating System and the book Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux.
Our entire team met in person recently and let me tell you something…it was absolutely wonderful! The only reason why we stopped talking was because a team member had to catch a flight. I’m extremely thankful for the time to connect with everyone. It was a wonderful reminder of the power and importance of community.
We continue to enjoy meeting new organizations and leaders interested in transforming their work and improving how they support their employees or communities they serve. We’ve also grown through new business partnerships. Here are three ways we can support you:
If you are interested in learning more about how we may work with you, please schedule a discovery call by visiting this link: https://calendly.com/hje/let-s-talk
Now take a break from your phone or computer, please!
Until next time,
Heidi Jackson Everett
President & CEO
Star Cypress Partners