CareerTopic #3 – Full Speed Ahead?: Balancing DEI Action with Advocacy

November 3, 20200
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Topic #3 in the Beyond Training series focuses on balancing action with advocacy.

Recap to Date

The previous two blog posts focused on laying the groundwork to create a psychologically safe and inclusive culture in organizations. A few actions that you should be taking by this point include:

  • Breaking your organizational silence over and over again
  • Scheduling and executing listening sessions in your organization
  • Revisiting the structures and systems that you use to evaluate employees
  • Focusing on team-focused solutions

Advocacy and Action

This series has been very action-oriented to date. Now it’s time to slow down and focus on continually upgrading the quality of our advocacy, and the subsequent actions that we take.

Being an exceptional advocate is more than simply supporting a cause, policy, or population.

Exceptional advocates have awareness AND proficiency. They commit to raising proficiency throughout their careers.

*Examples of advocates include allies, champions, and other courageous influencers.

Think about the last time you leveled up in something. Maybe you became a better parent, cook, or athlete. Would you have become a better cook by simply cooking more? What if you never studied more advanced recipes? What if you never updated your cookware? As you see, it’s almost impossible to level up if you are 100% in action mode. Becoming an exceptional advocate is a similar process.

To increase your proficiency in advocacy, organize your focus within the following areas:

  1. What you SEE:

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

This anonymous quote sums up the challenges of  “seeing” well. In order to “see” the entire landscape objectively (the good and the bad), we have to be open to experiencing what’s really going on, not what we think we should experience.

To see well, we also need to continually upgrade our ability to be observers. This means refraining from judgement so we can truly see how people who are different from us might experience the world.

People who are proficient at being objective observers (seeing well) listen more than they talk. They don’t try to solve everyone’s problems; they listen, seek to understand, and work to form solutions based on what they learn. Quick litmus test.

If you are talking more than 50% of the time–or judging–instead of understanding your employees, you are not objectively seeing the landscape.

2. What you KNOW:

Learning something new is the first accessible space in which many of us actively migrate. I sometimes call this Advocacy IQ. You can increase your proficiency here by reading books, attending training and workshops, or through engaging in everyday conversations. It’s always great to know more — but being an advocate, starts, not stops, here.

3. What you DO:

Kwame Nkrumah’s legendary quote sums doing up very well:

“Thought without practice is empty. Action without thought is blind.”

Doing is advocacy in action. Doing encompasses the times when we speak up and stick our necks out for others.

Over time, we might notice that the more time we spend on seeing and knowing, the more confident we feel about our ability to do better. Putting new structures and systems in place becomes more intuitive. We naturally speak up for other people. We naturally know where to start, and we embrace the journey.

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Now, it’s time to get to work.

Remember that not all advocacy is considered equal, and we have to keep leveling up. As our advocacy level increases, our actions will become more informed.

Now take a minute and evaluate yourself:

  • How much time are you dedicating to becoming an exceptional advocate vs. executing strategy?
  • What are three steps you will take to increase your Advocacy IQ?

LaTonya Wilkins, ACC, is an ICF-credentialed empowerment and executive coach, global culture leader, and keynote speaker. LaTonya inspires her clients to think beyond training to create real change in organizations. To subscribe to the full beyond training series, click here. You can learn more about LaTonya at www.latonyawilkins.com.

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LaTonya Wilkins. All rights reserved.

LaTonya Wilkins. All rights reserved.

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