Guest Column: Vision
Dr. Karen Y. Wilson-Starks
“I didn’t know all of this was going on…the amount of police violence against Blacks. I thought we (the US) were much farther along. With so many atrocities, I am starting to feel a sense of hopelessness,” said one of my white male clients, a company president.
As of this writing 30 million cases of the coronavirus have been reported worldwide, with 210 countries and territories affected, and more than a million deaths. The US leads the world with more than 7 million cases and 200,000+ deaths. One in 360 of all New York city residents and one in 278 residents of McKinley County, New Mexico with a large Navajo Nation population, have died.
On the business front more than 100,000 US small businesses have permanently closed and a long string of larger brand name companies have filed for bankruptcy. In the United States, of all persons killed by the police in 2020, 28% were Black, a rate disproportionately higher than other groups. In lethal force police cases, Blacks also have a 2.8 times higher fatality rate. These are unprecedented times with many bleak statistics and outcomes.
Some of my clients and other business leaders are stunned into a temporary sense of shock and paralysis. They wonder what to do. With the status quo shaken and many old ways no longer working, some leaders are open to new perspectives.
The experience of this time is like getting eyeglasses or eye surgery for the first time. You now realize what you missed before your vision correction. You thought you were seeing all there was to see. You now see the fine lines of every tree leaf, each individual blade of grass, and the sharp lines of demarcation between objects. In addition, the room you thought was pristine clean now has a few cobwebs in the corner. Rather than reverse the surgery or return the glasses to the optometrist and say, “I don’t want to see all of that”, You say, “What can I do with my improved vision?”
Clean out the cobwebs
All businesses have some cobwebs. Walk through the business, talk to people, and conduct business audits. Listen to those who sit in different places in your company. How is life for them where they sit? What conditions need to be improved and how can you work together to create the needed changes? Do you have policies in place that inadvertently disadvantage women, older workers, people of color, or other groups?
Termites are small and often undetected with the naked eye. Unseen and unaddressed, termites erode the foundation of your business. Look for evidence of termites and their damage. Call experts and professionals to inspect, examine, and treat your foundations. A common termite condition is a change-averse culture where people prefer the comfort zone of what worked yesterday. For others, it is a failure to listen and partner with customers to create the best results.
Forge New Pathways
With 2020 Vision you see opportunities and directions you didn’t see before. The businesses that thrive and re-invent themselves search for and identify those new roads, vehicles, services, and products. Internally they learn to have new and different conversations. They benefit from inventive technology, ways to work virtually, and enhanced approaches to assess the external pulse.
In the chaos of these times, stop to see the possibilities. Though the eye surgery was painful, you now have greater vision. Use that vision to benefit your organization and clients. Let the paralysis be temporary.
As the Bible says, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)
Dr. Karen Y. Wilson-Starks– President and CEO of TRANSLEADERSHIP®, INC. (www.transleadership.com), Host of The Voice of Leadership podcast, consultant, speaker, and author of Lead Yourself First: The Senior Leader’s Guide to Engaging Your People for Greater Performance and Impact.