Lead with Courage and Conviction

By Etheline Desir | Desir Group

In our current state of affairs, I am reminded of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.

At the beginning of each new year, as organizations explore new aspirations and possibilities, leaders begin to connect the dots between the organization’s vision, strategies, plans and budgets in determining how to build a winning team. We are told that good leaders are trailblazers, making a path for others to follow. Great leaders, however, inspire their people to reach higher, dream bigger, and achieve greater. This is especially true in the face of our current, unprecedented worldwide pandemic, social unrest, and political divisions.

The workplace, where people spend most of their waking moments, must become a place of support and solace where difficult but honest conversations are encouraged to better understand each other’s point of view. In 1995, I worked for a company that fostered a respectful, family-oriented workplace and reveled in its newly found culture of diversity and inclusion. On October 3, the entire firm gathered in the conference room, anxiously awaiting the jury’s verdict of OJ Simpson, who was charged with two gruesome murders. It was a poignant moment to watch the different reactions of our two racial groups to his acquittal verdict. My majority colleagues were astonished and disappointed, whereas the minority colleagues felt relieved and pleased that justice, for once, in this country’s long history of oppression and injustice of Black people, favored a Black man. Whether or not he was guilty did not matter. After a brief discussion, it was evidently clear that neither group could be influenced to change its position. In ensuing days and after many discussions, we came to better understand that people’s lived experiences affect their beliefs, perceptions and convictions. Hence the importance of unfettered conversations that can lead to awareness, acceptance, deference and ultimately love.

This month we honor Dr. King, who led this country through tumultuous times. He said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” So, my message is simply to lead with courage and conviction, recognizing that what unites us, as humans, is far greater and stronger than what divides us. Political persuasion is strong, but love conquers and uplifts the spirit even in the worst of situations.

We are grateful for the hard work of our healthcare leaders, the front line workers and staff, and for their sacrifices in an ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

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