You do what you say you will do. At work, this means staying aware of your competencies and limitations, so you don’t over promise and are able to deliver on commitments and balance competing priorities. — Brené Brown*
Like many of you, I have been helping my family face mental and physical health challenges these past few months and have consequently been bouncing back and forth between my personal and professional obligations. This experience has been a constant change and some themes have emerged, that apply to both of these worlds. One of the themes that really came to the surface for me is the concept of reliability. It turns out, our personal and professional leadership goals can be quite powerful if we build reliability into their fabric. An example of this, is the use of specific phrases and how they can be indicators of a choice to avoid being reliable to oneself and others.
This week, our country, still quite fragile from the continued economic and health challenges of COVID-19, has been hit again with the death of George Floyd, a 46-year old Black man, who died at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis. Protests have erupted across the Country, including here in Monterey County. I have been listening to what Black leaders across the country are saying right now, and one of the continued messages that I have heard is for white folks. The message is: do something. For some of us, the idea that we as white people can make a difference in the lives of Black people, might be new information. For others, this is old, old news.
In the context of today’s post, please consider what it means to be a reliable ally to those in our lives who, because of the color of their skin, face terror and discrimination that most of us cannot begin to imagine. I offer the exercises below to consider what it is that you do at home, in your company, and in the community, that makes you a reliable ally. Do you “try” to do, or do you decide, and actually “do?”
And, for those of you who are reading this today that are Black, Indigenous or other People of Color, I am sorry. I will continue to commit to learning more about the historical origins of racism and white supremacy. I will continue to listen to what is being asked of me. I will continue to do what I can to support justice and equality for all. And, if my legal background can be of assistance, our office is here to support you.
Change the language you use, and your habits will likely follow. Here are three examples to illustrate what this means, along with my interpretations of what each of these phrases actually mean.
- “I will try to do that” means:
“I already know I won’t do it, but I don’t want to admit it out loud.”
- “I might do that later” means:
“It probably won’t happen, because I am putting off making a decision about the relative value of this task.”
- “I want to do that, but I am waiting for the other person to do their part” means:
“I don’t want to take responsibility for my part in things not changing.”
Note the words: Try, Might, and But. Take those terms out of your vocabulary and see what happens in your thinking about personal and professional choices. Now, set your leadership intentions to avoid these words in honor of being a more reliable leader at home and in the workplace. And, check out this great article on Compassionate Directness, from the New York Times, that may help inspire you in your workplace reliability goals.
We want to hear from you! Send us a message to share how you have built reliability into your personal life, work environment or community.
Of course, contact us if you would like more information about how the concept of reliability can be used to minimize legal issues in your company.
*NOTE: Our theme for 2020 is “Where the Rubber Meets the Road,” and includes the Elements of Trust, outlined in the book, Dare to Lead, by Brené Brown. They are: Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Nonjudgment, and Generosity, aka “BRAVING.” All quotes, unless stated otherwise, are to this book.