Whether or not you have the official title of “leader,” you have opportunities to create a work environment – and a community – that is not only more welcoming, but that engages the abilities and gifts of all people.
Leaders learn (and unlearn).
Biases and beliefs get installed in us all the time, often when we’re quite young. Unlearning these can be confusing, embarrassing and even shameful. But leaders aren’t afraid of learning. They are always seeking improvement. What they learn, they put into action. Just as you might have educated yourself on how to organize a team, read a financial statement or be a better public speaker, you can learn how to be better at being inclusive in your leadership.
Leaders are allies.
Leaders don’t sit idly by when their allies are being hurt. Determine what communities you are an ally with and decide now how you’ll actively support them. Perhaps you’ll help them secure resources. Maybe you can make a point to educate others. Perhaps you will walk beside marginalized communities to help them overcome barriers. Whatever your role or title, you can be a leader by demonstrating public allyship.
Leaders challenge assumptions.
Do you automatically assume a person with a disability can’t do a job? For example, do you think a blind person can be a good major gifts officer? Can a person on the Autism spectrum serve on your board? Can a person who uses a wheelchair be the chair of your next gala? While certain tasks require certain abilities, a role is more than a task. Can accommodations around a task be made that allow a person with a disability to thrive in a role, giving your team new insights and energy? Challenge yourself to separate individual tasks from the skills needed to be successful in a role.
Whether you are a CEO or committee chair, head of a department or a family, you are a leader. Take the next step you can take to create a world where all people are valued. And then take the step after that.
Lead from where you are.
This Month's Focus