“What have I done?” That was the apprehensive thought that came to mind as I sat at my hotel room desk to prepare for a video podcast interview I had agreed to do a month prior.
I assumed leadership would be the subject matter of the interview since my entire focus is on leadership – keynotes, workshops, executive coaching… leadership, leadership and more leadership. As I read through the write up from Jennifer Tardy and podcast instructions it hits home that this was not going to be a generic leadership interview. Jennifer’s focus is on the career success of underrepresented populations in the corporate world. This podcast was going to be about being a black leader and the impact that being black may have on an executives’ career trajectory and success.
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I fight every day to be seen as a good or great leader – not a good or great Black leader. I believe at the core of my being that great leadership transcends race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or disability. People recognize great leadership and they also recognize bad leadership – irrelevant of those factors. My book The Parker Principles: 10 Leadership Force Multipliers is about great leadership principles for any leader. My keynotes and workshops focus on unleashing authentic leadership styles and delivering great leadership results. I have been meticulous throughout my career about not allowing my leadership to be defined by my race but only informed by my race.
This interview would take me off message, meaning that I would now have to talk about an issue that does not fit into my philosophy around Leadership. Race is an issue that I refused given any weight or power in my career. But I also knew that issues around race were real and presented real challenges that black leaders face every day. I understood that regardless of what I say it will generate responses across the spectrum – support, criticism, affirmation, denial, understanding, anger, defensiveness…. The list can go on but in almost every scenario I imagined it did not further my message on the transcendence of great leadership.
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As the doubts about doing the interview increased exponentially, something happened. It dawned on me that I was allowing myself to get swept into the debilitating loop of fear and doubt that I advocate against when speaking about “Owning Your Power” and a “No Excuses” mentality. That I have a responsibility and accountability to do the interview and my best to share knowledge to anyone that listens in the hope it will make a difference for someone, no matter how vulnerable or uncomfortable it felt to me. I owe every leader, especially black male leaders the disclosure of my experience and learnings on the hope that one leader, just one will pick up something that will positively affect their career or help avoid a CLE (Career Limiting Event).
In any case, I’ve added the podcast here on YouTube or Soundcloud. I am not sure if what I say is correct, resonates with you or works for your authentic leadership style, but it is my experience and my truth. Unpolished, unfiltered and sometimes raw. While I am still a little nervous about the publication, I am determined and committed.
I hope you enjoy.
Live without limits!
Head over to her website to see all of Jennifer Tardy’s Career Success podcast episodes.