In a crisis, uncertainty can drive traditional, “strong” leaders into taking complete, hands-on control. Following the tragedy of George Floyd’s murder last year, this is not what I saw.
Many of the chairs and chief executives I had coached came to me for guidance. They wanted to initiate a positive conversation about race with their colleagues but they didn’t know where to start. I found myself conducting regular, short, sharp 15-minute coaching sessions over Zoom.
The fear of getting it all horribly wrong was utmost in their minds. Some felt they may not have done enough in the past to justify them speaking about race now. It was a lot like learning to swim: there is only so much theory that you can do before having to get into the water. I told them they wouldn’t be perfect straight away, they may swallow a belly full of water, but with the right allies and encouragement they would learn.