This blog was inspired by my former career working for ten years in a government agency. I loved working in staff training and development, particularly in the arena of leadership skills. There were so many incredible employees with amazing potential, and I loved encouraging them to discover their capabilities and confidence.
However, over those ten years, I also witnessed these same staff burn out at a horrifying pace. I watched co-workers despair over feeling unheard, unseen, and unappreciated. I watched a rate of turnover that would replace entire offices within a couple of years. And I saw a system that repeatedly failed employees from marginalized communities.
When it comes to management, there are a vast number of “leaders” who are very adept at saying all the right things. They talk about the best qualities that a true leader should possess, use all the right words in discussing issues of identity and inclusion, give passionate speeches about how much they care about their employees. And yet…we see the same results, time and again.
People often complain about the lack of change within their organizations. But the truth is, most organizations are operating exactly as they’ve been designed to do, and the managers who succeed are those who excel at maintaining the status quo.
I believe to truly change a culture, it takes so much more than good speeches or good intentions. Stepping up to create real and lasting change takes a huge risk. It takes defiance.
A Defiant Leader operates with the following core ideas:
- Anyone can be a leader, regardless of position. Hierarchies give you power, they do not make you a leader. Leadership is not the province of any particular group.
- Self-awareness is utterly key to leadership. If you cannot honestly and openly examine your own biases, and welcome input from those who are affected by those biases, you are not a leader.
- Systems are flawed and biased by design. Good intentions are meaningless. You HAVE to look at impact.
- Empathy is one of the most powerful skills a leader can possess.
- You will never know everything. Your people are your most important resource, and you need to truly listen to them to make change.
- You will fail. Own it and learn from it.