4 tips for black male leaders post George Floyd’s killing

4 tips for black male leaders post George Floyd’s killing

Following the public lynching of George Floyd, like many others, I was in utter shock and disbelief. Unfortunately, I had grown immune to the senseless killings of black men by the hands of a police officer, but this one hit differently. Watching the grimace on the cop’s face as he rested his knee on George Floyd’s neck for roughly eight minutes was a scene no one could deny or unsee. I was glued to the news for days with a front row seat of the racial tensions escalating throughout the country and world. Personally, I was falling apart which naturally impacted my ability to lead and execute the day to day functions of my professional role (i.e., leadership capacity). Consequently, a reset was imperative which resulted in the application of the 4 steps offered below.

  1. Take a pause to reflect on personal feelings. While I am not the “touchy feely” type, it was necessary to take a deep-dive, introspectively to process the individual impacts of this event. What prominent feelings emerged and why? How did this situation resonant with me as a black man and a leader? What was I noticing about my mood and behavior? What was the correlation between this event and my personal experience with racism? I asked myself these questions and many more and offer you to do the same. Then, simply sit with it. Whatever emotions and feelings come up, allow yourself to be in the moment and process them.
  2. Talk to others. After wrestling with my own reflections, it was important for me to engage others. Surely, I was not alone is this experience. Therefore, it was crucial to speak with others in my village to discern their thoughts and emotions. This was an opportunity to share and become vulnerable with others in a safe space. The outcome was positively overwhelming. The reassurance of being in it together and the thought-provoking discussions were inspirational. I highly recommend opening up to others and creating a two-way exchange of sharing, reflecting and connecting. You will be amazed at how therapeutic this experience will be.  
  3. Self-assess. After self-reflecting and talking to others, it was time to take personal inventory on where I stood to include my current status (holistically). What has changed? Will there be a new direction forward? What are the lasting impacts of this situation on my life? How will I respond versus react? What influences have emerged and how will they be integrated? What will be different for you? This is a short list of questions I implore you to address when charting a path forward.
  4. Take action. The culmination of the aforementioned steps is to take action. With the countless efforts and initiatives that were reenergized after George Floyd’s killing, it is essential for you to discern where you fit in and the efforts you will personally commit to moving forward. Being geographically close to DC where the protests and marches ensued, I had many conversations with myself and others regarding why I did not feel compelled to join the ranks with others who were equally outraged. However, when the distractions and noise subsided (primarily through the above actions), I was able to see and feel clearly; allowing personal convictions to emerge to include the mantle I intended to take up, in my own way. I hope you are able to do the same. Realizing your own commitment is vital to supporting corresponding actions for the long haul. Equally important, it will bring about greater personal satisfaction and growth which positively impacts your well-being beyond measure.

Racial injustice and police killings of unarmed black men are heavy to process but more painful for black men to digest. With so many responsibilities we carry on our shoulders ranging from societal pressures to personal and professional expectations, there is a way to persevere. Every now and again, there are incidents that will occur; creating an opportunity to pause and reflect, talk to others, self-assess, and take action. Application of these steps will enable you to reset and emerge as a more powerful and prolific leader than ever before. It’s in you. What are you waiting for?

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