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Dr. Keita Joy

Dr. Keita Joy
By Shannon Lee (she/her)
Executive Director, Leadership Columbus

Communities all over the US conduct similar flagship programs to our Signature Program, and leaders of those organizations come together annually to collaborate on best practices at the Association of Leadership Programs (ALP) Conference. Like so many other conferences, the ALP Conference was virtual the past two years but not this year. In June, we were in person in Orlando, FL.

Wednesday of that conference was a lunchtime keynote. As we walked into the room, there was an air of excitement. But to be honest, I was slightly hesitant. The speaker, well-known for her inspirational talks, was one to be excited about, so my hesitancy was not related to our guest. Rather, inspirational speaking in general. 

As of late, these talks lack cultural relevancy and seem to float above the heaviness of our time. Yes, we want inspirational speakers to leave us feeling elevated. But do we want them to ignore the current challenges going on in society? For me, that’s a firm no. To overlook our current times and failure to at least attempt to inspire within the context of current events feels like some sort of spiritual bypassing to me.

But Dr. Keita Joy knew this. She did not disappoint.

I was sold. Somewhere between Beyoncé’s new song, Break My Soul, and Dr. Joy’s mantras for authentic living, I knew this wasn’t a fluffy inspirational talk. And I left there feeling strangely elevated and grounded. It was magic. 

Part of Dr. Keita Joy’s work is speaking on mental health, specifically to and with Black women. And, since July is Black, Indigenous, and other people of color Mental Health Awareness Month, I’d like to share her TedTalk on the topic. You can watch it here.

If you’d like to connect with Dr. Keita Joy and her work, you can find her on Instagram @thedrkeitajoy and @successuncensored. Her website is https://keitajoy.com/

Reconciling June: Juneteenth, Pride and June’s Collective Call To Action

Reconciling June: Juneteenth, Pride and June’s Collective Call To Action
There Would Be No Pride Without Juneteenth
By: Karen Hewitt (ze/hir/she/her)
Associate Director, Leadership Columbus

Why so loud June?

June has become an incredibly significant month in America. Companies are figuring out how to incorporate LGBTQ+ Pride into their daily existence visibly and boldly. It can get really colorful. 

With the recent racial and social justice uprisings of 2020, America is also being asked to reconcile with its sordid past of enslavement. In that conversation, Juneteenth has been brought to the forefront for awareness, acknowledgement and reparation. 

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth is the celebration of June 19, 1865: A day known as Emancipation Day for enslaved Africans in America. The first celebration of this day was June 19, 1866 celebrating the first anniversary of this original federal mandate.  

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and personal property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.” (General Orders, Number 3 Headquarters District of Texas, Galveston, June 19, 1865)

After 250+ years of enslavement, African-American people were “free.” This notion is complex considering a few factors. 

  1. The Civil War ran from April 12, 1861- April 9, 1865.  The Civil War was fought on the moral issue of slavery. The South stood to lose their current business infrastructure with enslaved Africans and African descendents at the core of it, solidifying family wealth through the Cotton industry.  
  2. Abraham Lincoln declared, “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free” in the Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863.  
  3. It took until June 19, 1865 for news of this Executive Order to make its way to the plantations and the ears of enslaved Africans and African descendants, now known as African-Americans and Black people.  Some slave owners fought in the Civil War and did not tell the people they owned that they were free for months.  

Juneteenth provides us with an opportunity to celebrate the freedom of an entire race of people.  The notion of race is a categorization for people created by European settlers as they colonized American land. Juneteenth is complex because it requires us to acknowledge our American history with the reality and atrocities of slavery in America.  To celebrate freedom would mean to acknowledge our ‘original sin’ as a nation.  

It also means to reconcile with the disparity that African-American and Black people have faced in America since receiving freedom. Many slaves stayed on plantations and worked as indentured servants as conditions did not automatically improve for previously enslaved folks.  These conditions did not magically improve for a long time, especially in the South. We are still reeling from the impacts of slavery. 1865 was 165 years ago.  Africans and African descendents were enslaved over 246 years when they finally received notice that they were ‘free’.  

Americans are still just learning oral history and tradition passed down from actual enslaved Americans. Enslaved people were not encouraged to read or write, which makes curating history much more complicated. This is why we are just beginning to hear the stories of people whose ancestors were enslaved. Many movies, documentaries and series attempt to capture the history and stories of pre Civil War America. Our work is to continue learning, acknowledging the truth about our past as a country and working to remove disparities and barriers in terms of access for African-Americans and Black people in this country. The acknowledgement and celebration of Juneteenth is just the beginning.

What does this have to do with LGBTQ+ Pride Month?

Did you know that Pride month began as a protest by a Black, Transgender Woman combating police brutality?  Marsha P. Johnson was an activist, self-identified drag queen, performer, and survivor. She was a prominent figure in the Stonewall Uprising of 1969. Marsha went by “BLACK Marsha” before settling on Marsha P. Johnson. The “P” stood for “Pay It No Mind,” which is what Marsha would say in response to questions about her gender. Marsha alongside Sylvia Rivera began the work of civil rights for Queer and Trans people in America.

Sylvia was a tireless advocate for all those who have been marginalized as the “gay rights” movement has mainstreamed. Sylvia fought hard against the exclusion of Transgender people from the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in New York, and was a loud and persistent voice for the rights of people of color and low-income Queer and Trans people. 

Following the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera started STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries). They quickly began to get involved in advocacy for youth. STAR House opened late 1970, originally as a trailer serving as a shelter and social space for Trans sex workers and other LGBTQ+ street youth. The trailer was towed and it was then that Marsha and Sylvia decided to get a brick and mortar space where they continued their service.  

June is about Civil Rights. We look towards race because race is the prism through which all other differences are cast. It is woven into the fabric of America as deeply as cotton.  There is no coincidence that the most impacted by civil rights inequities are Black and Brown bodies. Black, Indigenous, and otherwise People of Color (BIPOC) experience disparities daily around their rights to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Not only are there disparities with rights, there are disparities in terms of access to resources to secure life, liberty, and happiness. 

It is important to celebrate and affirm. It is also important to address actual barriers folks have to equality. Kimberlé  Crenshaw discusses how intersectionality has cumulative impact based on experiences had by folks with multiple diversity dimensions. Her original coining of the term was based on the experience of Black Women and the intersection of race and gender and its impact in the workplace. Over thirty years later, we have a plethora of diversity factors contributing to experiences of inequity in America. 

Pride month does not exist as we know it if Juneteenth did not happen. It all comes together as we recognize that the most vulnerable of any group is generally the Black, Indigenous, and other members of color of this group. If we can shift our focus to safety, providing access to the most historically marginalized, and centering their experiences, we can approach equality and equity in integrity as a country.  

How do I participate if I am not a Black, Indigenous, Person of Color  and/or LGBTQ+?

What we are all looking for are ways to exist right now. If you do not identify as BIPOC or LGBTQ+ there are ways for you to get involved and show your allyship.  Here are a few opportunities to show up in the now so your June can be a celebratory one. 

  1. Check out this Anti-Racism Resource List
  2. Watch Happy Birthday, Marsha!, an introductory resource for LGBTQ+ Pride
  3. Personally research Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, 1969 Stonewall Uprising
  4. When creating or attending events, center BIPOC and LGBTQ+ voices in planning and execution of said events. No one can tell you better what they need than the ones in need themselves. 
  5. Listen and hold space a lot more; don’t make this about you and your lack of belonging to one of these groups of people. 
  6. Donate to your local grassroots organizations supporting Black, Queer organizers and community members. 
  7. Celebrate BIPOC and LGBTQ+ greatness all year long! This will help not seeming performative and making this about profit over people. Invite racial and LGBTQ+ diversity all year round!

Parting Words

To African-American, Black, and Indigenous people: know that you are seen, celebrated, and affirmed for simply existing.  Your contributions to society are absolutely necessary.  Equality is the minimum and equity is on the horizon.  Stand fast in your value, in your dignity, and in the greatness that you are.

To LGBTQ+ folks: celebrate this month. Celebrate your visibility and acceptance, knowing that visibility in and of itself is a privilege. The fight for equality does not end here.  Stand up for your rights and let us not forget the past and the fight that got us all here. 

“None of us are free until all of us are free.” -Audre Lorde.

Editor’s Note: The original publication of this article was in June 2021 for The Buckeye Flame linked here.

Quality Leadership Conversations

Quality Leadership Conversations
By Shannon Lee (she/her)
Executive Director, Leadership Columbus

When I ask folks, “What is your biggest challenge in managing your team(s)?” the most common answer is communication.

We’ve all heard the sayings about communication. Here are a few common ones in meme form:

 

 

 

Information, or the what of communication, abounds. So why does the art of communicating at work remain such a huge challenge?

I believe the two most significant barriers to effective communication are:

  • Lack of knowledge about individuals on the team
  • Lack of structure for having high-quality conversations within teams

KNOWING YOUR TEAM

Knowing our teammates is essential to effective communication. And I’m not just referring to knowing and understanding their role on the team, but knowing and understanding them as human beings. 

Every one of us possesses specific natural drives. Those drives create needs in every area of our life, including work. Our needs are what inspire behavior. The fact that we have drives and needs does not mean we don’t or can’t adapt our behavior despite our drives or needs. Still, it does mean that generally speaking, those needs are greatly influencing what behaviors we do without thinking. Socialization and conditioning have taught each of us differently, which of those needs to act on and how.

According to the Predictive Index Assessment, we all have four basic drives:

  1. Dominance: How collaborative or independent we are
  2. Extraversion: If we process internally or externally; the extent to which we are energized or drained by interactions with others
  3. Patience: How quickly we prefer to get things done; the need for a steady vs. driving pace.
  4. Formality: Do we prefer a lot or a little structure? How much do we like rules vs. winging it?

I like to use the Predictive Index as a tool to understand myself better, the individuals on my team, and our team dynamics. Of course, the Predictive Index is not the only tool to provide such data. Still, it’s one of the most prominent, most widely used tools globally, with tons of research to back up the efficacy of their validated results. (If you are interested in a free Predictive Index for your team, I can help! Email me at shannonlee@columbus.org.)

Regardless of what tool you use, gathering data is one of the ways to increase knowledge about your team. Data collection is supremely important because understanding drives, needs, and behaviors, can help everyone suspend judgment and see behaviors for what they are: a response to a need. And sometimes, a response to an unmet need. 

We can look at teammates and address behavior from a neutral space with this mindset. Starting from a neutral space removes (as much as possible) the biased landscape of conclusions about the behavior. I believe most workplace drama stems not from the situation itself but from the meaning and conclusions we make about the problem (a separate blog post). Conclusions and assumptions around behavior in the workplace can lead to a lack of equity for all and are not helpful for a couple of reasons.

First, conclusions rely on the history, background, experiences, and emotional make-up of the person making the conclusion. For this reason, they are unreliable, as one’s own biases may heavily influence the conclusion. 

Second, conclusions prevent us from addressing the actual issues at hand. When we focus on conclusions about a person versus their actual behavior, we subconsciously create solutions focused on eliminating the conclusion. As a result, we will spend little to no time solving the undesirable behavior.

Sample Situation:

“My teammate is repeatedly turning in written documents full of errors and omissions. I’ve talked to them several times about this situation. Because it keeps happening, they must be insubordinate, uncaring, and disrespectful.”

Notice the conclusions versus the behavior.

Conclusions: insubordinate, uncaring, disrespectful

Behaviors: Repeatedly turning in written documents with errors and omissions, even after reminders.

Most folks talk about the conclusions (which are probably causing an emotional response, fueling the conversation) and then begin to solve those issues. The conversation may sound like this: “I don’t understand why they are being so disrespectful and uncaring about their work output. Their attitude is a repeated issue, and we need to figure out how to stop this disrespect.”

Drawing conclusions wastes time by creating drama and moves nothing forward toward improving behavior. Sure, you can talk to the team member and share your conclusion; but this choice runs the risk of putting the team member in a place of defense and even shame. Neither of those places is a healthy starting point for behavior change. 

If we want to help folks learn and grow, we must also understand that how and what we communicate impacts their desire (or lack thereof) to make a change. I have found that removing the conclusion and focusing on the behavior is the key to wasting less time and increasing quality conversations. But there is another roadblock for leaders: having a structure for discussions around a need for changed behavior.

STRUCTURE FOR QUALITY CONVERSATIONS

I’ve used a structure for quality conversations at work for several years now, and I have to say, I love it. I did not create this structure; I learned it as a part of my training to become certified to teach Situational Leadership (SLII) through the Ken Blanchard Companies. This structure is, in many ways, the tactical approach to servant leadership. 

The structure SLII recommends is based on a 4-part model that I’ll explain below. Those four parts are: Connect, Align, Learn, and Reconnect. 

Here’s a breakdown of that conversation structure. For this example, we will assume the person you are talking with is new to a task or goal. The conversation changes depending on those items:

Connect

Align

Learn

Reconnect

This process is very prescriptive and may seem time-consuming. Still, in my experience, this structure creates a high-quality conversation that saves lots of time further down the road. Of course, communication is a challenge, but a solid communication process can take a team from surviving to thriving with effort and intentionality. 

If you are struggling with communication, we can help. Both Predictive Index and SLII are programs we endorse. We’d be happy to chat with anyone interested in these tools. All you need to do is reach out to me at shannonlee@columbus.org.

 

Recognizing A Healthy Workplace

Recognizing A Healthy Workplace
By Karen Hewitt (ze/hir/she/her)
Associate Director, Leadership Columbus

I am a strong believer in work-life balance. I also know we spend, at minimum 40 hours of a 168 hour week working. It is significant. This pandemic has caused us to look at work with a different lens of late, however, we needed to. As a whole, our current relationship with work could be considered unhealthy. Our society has historically unhealthy, exploitive, and even abusive relationships with capitalism, racism, patriarchy, ageism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia (amongst other isms and phobias), and of course, all of that impacts the workplace experience. 

This awareness of societal relationship with isms, phobias, and oppression is noted to bring a reflective lens to the conversation of capitalism and how that plays into our individual and collective relationship with work. Because these isms and phobias exist, we are forced into the conversation of discovering what having a healthy relationship with these isms looks like. At this point in history, I think the best we can do is to work to dismantle the isms and phobias in our own lives and in the workplace. There is no loving relationship available with racism or capitalism, more so working towards awareness of the impacts and dismantling the historical and current disparities created by all these isms and phobias on us as a society. ‘The Great Resignation’ has asked us to look at our professional relationships with a critical eye. 

This begs the question: what does a healthy workplace look like? 

My career path has been anything but orthodox. Beginning my career as a math major turned adjunct teacher and assistant women’s basketball college coach in the hills of Pennsylvania was an interesting start. I went on to teach high school mathematics and coach high school girls basketball for a year before returning to college athletics. Coaching at that level was taxing and intense. I have shoeboxes full of lessons and journal entries from the first eight years of my professional life. College coaching is a lifestyle. The calendar is different. The hours are long and full of putting your success in the hands of 18-23 year olds. It’s a profession of young people, and people are the wild card in all experiments. 

I decided to come back to Ohio to get my Masters in Educational Policy and Leadership where I thought the idea of being a principal may be the thing that would get me back in the classroom. What I found at The Ohio State University was that I did not have to be on a principal licensure path and I could (mostly) create the coursework of my dreams. It was there that I explored and minored in Workforce Development, Strategic Human Capital and Diversity and Inclusion. I got to hear, learn, and observe, in theory, what it meant to create and lead a healthy organization. 

What I actually learned was the disparities that prevent organizations from being healthy and fulfilling spaces for all. I learned that–more times than not–it’s profit over people. As I continued my career in Human Resource Management and Organizational Development, I began to idealize a healthy workplace. I would pick specific parts of each place I worked in to keep while also remembering what not to do for when I would move on. 

I am now, thankfully, in roles where I can create the workspaces I once longed for as a mid level manager. I take the responsibility of senior leadership very seriously and work to be perpetually flexible and accountable as the workplace and people change over time. 

I have toiled with perfectionism over the course of my life. grappled with its meaning and implication since I was young. I was raised to be as close to perfect as possible. Perfection at the cost of rest, sanity, and a false understanding of meritocracy. In unlearning all of that socialization, I have come to understand that perfection is relative, that it includes human error and mostly means exactly what I need or want vs. some arbitrary definition of what perfect should mean. 

How does this practice of perfection inform my experience professionally? I am less likely to look for a “perfect workplace”. I look for and work to create a workplace that is perfect for me. That may look different for different minds and different processes and leadership styles. 

It is important to get clear on what the perfect workplace would look like for you. We often are able to so quickly say what we don’t want. Our experiences create protective barriers for us. Put us in survival mode. The mind is powerful and protective. In this article I will discuss some of the characteristics I look for in a healthy workplace in an effort to shine a light on practices and cultural tones of a workplace that are equitable, inclusive, and affirming. 

Healthy is defined here as a safe place for all (willing and eager) people to work, grow, develop, challenge the status quo, and experience belonging. Willing and eager is a very important piece to this. I would say all people, but the truth is: if you are not committed and willing to grow and change as needed, it becomes challenging to work with others as the world changes around you. For those involved in the conversation, we are acknowledging diversity, equity, inclusion, and advancement opportunities as understood quantitatively (performance metrics) and qualitatively (through survey and discussion). A healthy workplace can be messy, it very well should be when it comes to humans. It has a culture that allows for reconciliation and repair for fractured relationships and conflict and also is a learning environment. Finally, and most importantly, a healthy workplace would allow for accountability and sustainability. 

What are traits of a healthy workplace? 

  • Representative and Diverse Leadership that is doing ‘the work’- Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility. 

As a Black, Queer, Woman presenting individual, I get very curious on the diversity dimensions present in senior leadership of an organization. I am aware that for me this means visible diversity around race and gender expression. I think you can tell a lot about an organization by the placement of Black Women. Currently, Black Women serve as 4% of C-Suite leadership corporately. This number may be slightly higher in human service and non-profit work, but not by much. I pay close attention and use how the organization positions Black, Queer, Trans and/or Disabled folx as a barometer for my own potential success (talk to your friends about what words they prefer you use to speak about different physical and mental abilities. Personally, I prefer the term disabled and I identify this way as well). 

Is there token diversity or is there actual representation? Tokenization is when people have one representative for a given diversity dimension instead of a rich mix of diverse people and looks more  like a box that is checked off in terms of diversity quotas. That one person is often asked to speak for the entire demographic they supposedly represent. This can be done to create the perception that there is diversity present. Tokenization is also an ideology where people have no interest in actually diversifying the space, only to appear so to the public. This is much harder to discern in the sense that we are talking about leadership’s intent to actually diversify vs. just saying all the right things, hiring enough folks here and there, and not actually working towards diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging in senior leadership. 

How do people talk about their experiences? It is really hard to work in a space where the proverbial glass ceiling is middle management before you even sign your contract. Pay close attention to the leaders and the voices that are amplified and followed. That will always determine how far you are able to go in any diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility efforts. 

As a DEI and Anti-Racism facilitator, I often get asked what ‘the work’ means. At its simplest, it means consistently checking in with yourself around your personal contributions to harm in oppressive systems. It means getting in ‘Right Relationship’ with the people in your life personally and professionally. Right Relationship comes from the Principle of Oneness stating that we are all connected and we impact each other. Right relationship is about being aligned and in integrity with yourself and others.It means addressing and unlearning your biases and how that shows up in your behaviors. It means advocacy for yourself and others. It means learning how to consider the most vulnerable in the room and making them feel welcomed. Is this happening culturally in the workplace you are observing or working in?

  • Development and Advancement Opportunities

This also can allude back to visibility and representation. The question I ask here is, “are there equitable pathways to professionally develop all employees?” I also ask the question, “are supervisors equipped to support their employees to develop in the ways that best serve them?” Get curious on how performance evaluations are conducted. Ask about coaching and professional development opportunities outside of the organization L&D itself. Is there a budget for PD? All of these questions will hopefully help you understand what is available to you in terms of development and advancement. I am personally very committed to PD and L&D, so this is a non-negotiable in my healthy workplace. It also shows a spirit of a learning environment which is great to see in adults. 

  • Transparent and Open Communication

I believe we confuse transparency with telling all. The most important aspect of communication is consistency. My observations here automatically go to the systems in place for leadership to communicate with their organizations. This may have levels and idiosyncrasies. How are messages delivered to employees, candidates, internal staff and external clients? Are the messages consistent internally and externally? Do the messages share the right amount of context and clarity? An example of this is sharing the company budget. Many don’t understand how to read a budget. I would be more appreciative if I was told what the gaps were in funding and what my role is (individually and departmentally) in closing the gap. Also, does leadership follow up in communication when projects are completed or when we are going in a different direction? 

I understand privacy in HR grievances and when people leave an organization. How leadership and HR handles someone leaving is a huge indicator for me of what the standard is on how much dignity we provide people in times of conflict, up to separation. 

  • Healthy Work/Life Boundaries

It is incredibly important to have healthy boundaries modeled by your supervisor and leadership. As a member of senior leadership teams, I can say to make sure you take care of yourself, but if I do not model that behavior, then how can you take me seriously? If I am constantly exhausted or burned out, how can you not think that is the way to get to where I am? Do people send emails to each other past closing time? What do ‘out of office’ messages look like? Do people actually take vacation? Are you encouraged to simply say yes when something is asked of you or do you reflect and feel safe to say whether you actually have capacity to complete the task? How do you communicate with your co-workers? Are jokes culturally appropriate or at others’ expense? Boundaries is a lifelong journey of checking in with yourself and then being honest about what that means to the world. You want to make sure you are in an environment that does not require you to disregard or ignore what is healthy for you personally and professionally in terms of boundary setting.

  • A Culture of Accountability

This is important personally and professionally. In the healthy workplace, a culture of accountability means that people understand when they may be out of line and are called into what is possible when they step outside of that agreed upon expectation. For example, if someone seems exhausted or maybe even burnt out, a team member could say to them, “Hey, you seem a little exhausted, is there an opportunity for you to go home early? How can I support you getting some rest?” This also means if something harmful is happening, maybe someone keeps interrupting another co-worker and someone steps in and says. “We don’t interrupt our co-workers here. It is really important we let them finish.” An effective leader steps in and says that is not how we do things around here as opposed to focusing on their behavior or the individual. 

Accountability is challenging especially with leadership. In the healthy workplace with leadership that is willing to grow, I am constantly watching how leadership handles mistakes or conflict. How do they express when they have misstepped individually and collectively? You can have all the policies around accountability, but if the culture does not hold anyone responsible for upholding it, then it is simply ideas on paper. 

  • Culturally Responsive and Trauma Informed

This is a very specific request I have of organizations. I work with people and it is important to understand in the human service space that people are going through things we don’t always understand. In crisis and relationship, it is important to be aware of trauma responses and cultural responses to threats. This information does not only make it easier to work with clients, it also makes it easier to understand and connect with your teammates and co-workers. This awareness is very supportive to you individually as you unpack systems of oppression, evaluate how they impact you, and work towards finding your own healing. 

  • Compensation packages

I would be remiss not to mention the basics in a compensation package. To me this includes: a flexible work schedule (virtual and in person), PTO policies, competitive pay, bonus opportunities, affirming health care plans, mental health opportunities, professional development opportunities, and 401K and IRA opportunities with matches. This may seem like a lot and for smaller organizations it is harder to achieve.There is also a lot that goes beyond policies, procedures and pay. Sometimes people stay because of a feeling of belonging. Maybe they are appreciated in ways that they value deeply. I always believed that love languages translate into the workplace. I appreciate acts of service and words of affirmation. What would your work love languages be? What would need to be in a compensation package for you to feel adequately compensated for your time, expertise, and energy?

  • Succession Plans for leadership

This is something that is often seen as taboo in the workplace unless there is a family lineage and everyone knows the line of succession. Is there a plan when the CEO, COO, HR manager, or Executive Director steps down? Do people know what that would mean for them and their professional development plan? Oftentimes we get surprised when someone is leaving. What if that changed culturally and people felt comfortable sharing their dreams and 5-year or 10-year plans? What if people were able to pursue what they are passionate about within and outside of work? How wonderful would it be to be able to say, “I got this dream job and I think I am going to take it,” and then give a month’s notice instead of two weeks and create a succession plan with your team. Then when you leave there is no vacuum or scrambling around trying to fill the gap of what you left undone in a hurry. People could leave in peace, knowing that everything was in place for their departure and the team is sad to see them go but happy to see them thrive. We don’t see this in workplace culture often. This was my positive experience leaving my last job to come to Leadership Columbus and it made my transition very smooth and affirming. 

  • Fun

I will always advocate that work can be fun. As someone who spends more than 40 hours a week working, it is essential to enjoy the people I work with and be able to have fun. This requires ‘Right Relationship’ and knowing your teammates, however it is worth it. In environments where humor lives and people know that it is okay to laugh out loud or share a meme or a GIF with a coworker, they are the most life-giving. 

These are all traits that I have found in my most healthy workplace experiences. Professionally this is my wish list. I also utilize my power when I am in senior leadership to create spaces that are inclusive and affirming and have many of the traits listed above. Oftentimes I am faced with employees that come to work with me and have never experienced a healthy workplace. This presents a different challenge. It takes time to settle into an environment that is safe compared to an unhealthy environment. It can also come with its own resistance. People will not be prepared for calm, ease, and peace. They will be prepared for a fight, for compliance and endurance. Also as a leader, it took me years to get healthy myself.  I was not always creating the best spaces and culture and I know what that looks like. We all know what it looks like when it is not healthy and those lived experiences give us insight on what to look for. As a leader, have patience for this and reiterate your intent and opportunities that may be present for yourself AND the employee as they settle in.

In reflection, I am constantly considering what I need in an environment to create space for a generative experience. It is like having a clean home or room so now you can do your work in peace. Culture is essential to creating a work environment conducive to creativity, inclusion and affirmation. 

What are traits that would create the healthiest environment for you?