My friend Thomas Moore is a smart and caring man. I love how he thinks about the world. He shared that for him it’s key to respect other people’s agency and dignity. He went on to say that it’s not a guarantee that he’ll always be doing the right thing, but he knows that he’s doing the wrong thing when he doesn’t respect another’s agency and dignity.
His way of being really stuck with me: “respect people’s agency and dignity”.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how hungry people are to be told what to do around DEI issues. A white woman recently said to me: “Racism is horrible. What should I do? Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” I feel this way too sometimes.
There are so many listicles about what people need to do:
- 10 tactics for supporting women in leadership
- 9 ways to be an ally on National Indigenous Peoples Day
- 8 things to remember about pronouns
- 7 actions to take as an ally
- 6 people to follow during Black History Month
…you get the point.
It’s overwhelming to memorize all of these lists. It’s not very effective either. It’s not building capacity within individual leaders and assumes there’s a right thing to do and one way to be a leader. You also get stuck on “getting it right” rather than being in relationship, which is beautiful, nuanced and sometimes a bit messy.
When you take a co-active approach you first ask “who do you want to be?”, and from that place “what do you need to do?”
As a leader, who do you want to be?