I hope this article finds all of you well in 2023. I recognize it’s been a few months since I last wrote a blog to our community. I’ve been in an introspective place. I’m turning 60 in February and I guess a little bit of my eldership that I have been keeping at bay is creeping in!
In particular, the reality that it’s becoming more and more obvious that it is less about me and more about others puts me squarely in touch with how I can use all my privileges to uplift, empower and support others.
As each year comes to a close, many of us, including myself, reflect on the past year and contemplate the upcoming one. I often choose a word to be my guiding context for the year to come.
Word for the year
Relationship is my word for 2023. In the fall, when I wrote about DEI Burnout in my blog, I gave more thought to “What I can do” despite a potential recession and likely budget cuts in DEI departments .
When I reminded myself of the relationships I have built over the years and recalled all the stories, it hit me. These folks partnered with me/us because of the relationships we had mutually invested in and which made it easier to align and support what we were doing.
Being aware that a potential economic recession and these potential realities might likely affect The Better Man Movement’s business and the Better Man Conference, I realized that I had a few choices. My privileges afford me these choices.
One choice was that I could buy into the hype and allow fear and resignation to drive my thoughts and ultimately my behavior. Or, I could dig deep and ask myself “what is needed and who are the folks that I focus on” ?
When I asked this question, I did my best to put myself in the shoes of my friends in DEI and at the same time I knew my best efforts would fall well short. So I contemplated, “what do they need and how I can I be supportive?” I shared with them what I am up to and I asked them what they need. Relationship as a context makes it possible for me to nurture relationships, build relationships, start new relationships and make relationships THE FOCUS.
So what have I been doing?
I’ve been reaching out, connecting with my friends in DEI and getting to know them even better. I’ve offered my advocacy and I have been sharing with them my struggles and listening to theirs – because relationships are a two-way street. I have even scheduled some lunches- remember those?
Probably the biggest thing I am focusing on this year is my “allowing”. Can I allow things to be where they are, without expectation, or an agenda? For many years I would send out tons of emails and call lots of people and it took lots of energy. Not this year. When in doubt, I ask what can I do to foster and grow and nurture my relationships?” The answers always come.
I’ve been doing a bit more reading lately, one book in particular, The Relational Workplace is in “direct relationship” with the topic of this blog. The book was written by my dear friends, Saliha Bava PhD, and Mark Greene, both of whom have shared their wisdom at the Better Man Conference. They draw on decades of organizational systems,d communication theory, research and philosophy to create more fully connected lives.
In our roles as allies, relationship development is fundamental;their book offers great insights and tips to deepen your efforts around relationships in the workplace. You can visit their website and request a review PDF here.
As male leaders, we often have privileges that others do not have; recognizing that and making a choice to use those privileges to support other human beings is fundamental to being an ally and inclusive leader. And it doesn’t cost anything.
What can you do?
Ask yourself, “What relationships need my attention?” The key here is to also contemplate, “What might they need?” One way to find out is to ask. The effort you put in now to develop, nurture, and deepen your relationships will pay off in time.
If you are a male leader, reach out to your DEI department,introduce yourself and ask them how you might support them.
Maybe there are women on your team, women that you report to . Maybe there are folks that identify differently than you and herald from historically marginalized groups. Make it a point to get to know them, simply to develop relationships. Take them to lunch, or buy them a cup of coffee.
As I have written about in my book, Showing Up:How Men Can Become Effective Allies in the Workplace, today’s inclusive leader and ally is heart-based. The six heart-based leadership principles are cornerstones to guide you. They are:
- Emotional Literacy
I look forward to building a deeper relationship with all of you!