“Sociologists also report that the experience of immigration increases the intensity of whatever religious convictions are held by migrants. They find religious homes in the U.S. within existing congregations and through establishing new ones, often using the facilities of declining churches. Denominations rooted in Africa and Asia now have hundreds of congregations throughout the U.S., which continue to grow. As much as Hispanics have supported Catholicism’s numbers, today there are more Latinx Protestants in the U.S. than Episcopalians.”
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Having researched, written and coached churches on diversity for almost 20 years, I find that sometimes those I coach are challenged to explain the “why” and the “history” behind their beliefs. Ruchika Tulshyan, writing in the Harvard Business Review gives practical steps to embrace when explaining about your beliefs (excerpted below).
Do Your Employees Know Why You Believe in Diversity?
… Here are some suggestions for how your team can meaningfully communicate and execute your commitment to anti-bias and dismantling racism:
Do not send communication on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts without explicitly calling out the reasoning for it…
Understand the history of bias and discrimination — which explains how these initiatives and programs are righting past wrongs. While many of us theoretically believe discrimination of an employee because of their race, gender, ability, or other identity is wrong and even illegal, in practice, bias is present in many key decisions made in the workplace. A small but eye-opening example; a 2003 Harvard study found that employers preferred white candidates with a criminal record over Black employees who didn’t have a criminal history. Professional women of color face a number of impediments to hiring and advancement that white women do not…
Invite buy-in and advice from people of color…and listen with humility.
Prioritize anti-racism efforts in-house. Leaders must do the tough work of identifying where bias shows up in their organizations right now — hiring, retention, or advancement of employees of color — and fix those issues before moving to grand gestures that could be misinterpreted as PR stunts…
Show up personally … I do wish more leaders were present and engaged in conversations already taking place right in their backyards… When those in charge don’t engage in the work personally, it gives others in the organization to also take a back seat in this important work.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I’ve written 1000+ articles and over a dozen books. But, research shows that “high-potential leaders” favor personal mentoring over articles and books. And that’s why I’ve transitioned to full-time coaching/consulting and speaking.
by Keith Ferrazzi, Harvard Business Review,8/10/15.
Use regular one-on-one check-ins. Regular check-ins, as opposed to waiting for the annual performance review, allow you to work collaboratively with your direct reports to offer regular insight, knowledge, guidance, and suggestions to help them solve pressing problems, and to help them stay on track for their professional development goals…
Encourage more peer-to-peer coaching.Peer-to-peer coaching offers some of the richest, most valuable learning in an organization..
Create mentoring partnerships. “Some of the richest mentoring I have experienced is through ‘reverse mentoring’ where a younger generation employee partners with a more senior employee and they agree to share lessons learned with one another,” says Michael Arena, Chief Talent Officer at GM, so consider pairing-up team members from different demographics…
Tap into the potential coach within everyone… You can encourage your own team members to become coaches and trainers by allowing them to hold their own mini-seminars on an important topic or skill…
Support daily learning and development activities… Suggest that they digest small bites of content when it fits into their schedules during the day, or look for creative and engaging ways that you can bring learning and development into daily activities for your people.
Seek formal training…Consider seeking out formal training to enhance and improve your hard and soft skills, whether it’s one class, a certification program, or completing a more formal executive education or leadership training curriculum.
Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “I select the most helpful book reviews from my students and publish them here. These snippets of some of the best ideas and tools from the book will hopefully inspire you to read it. But at the very least these reviews can help you glean a few of the important tools/principles.”
Book: The Interventionist, Author: Lyle Schaller (1997) reviewed by John (Jack) Pladdys, 4/14/15.
What section of the book (pages and/or chapter) impacted you the most and why?
It is almost impossible to find one section of this book that impacted me the most. Schaller’s book reads like a manual for church consulting. I feel as though I have taken an entire 16-week course just by reading this book! However, if I was forced to pick one section, it would be Chapter 10: Evangelism or Intervention? (Although it is closely followed by chapters 4, 6, 7, and 9.)
The first story in chapter 10 captured my attention. As a relatively young pastor and a candidate looking for a position, my first reaction to the question, “How do we attract more young people?” is to offer a solution. Schaller reminds me that taking this plea literally and offering a suggestion will only lead to frustration. The problem is not trying to reach young people. The problems are a resistance to change and lack of agreement on priorities. By dealing only with issue, I fail to deal with the real problem. Schaller then goes on to discus three levels of change. He describes first level changes as doing what is currently happening, only better. If that does not work, then second level changes are a little more intense, but incremental. Third level changes are considered radical changes as they are a complete departure from the status quo.
What were the two most helpful tools, insights or practices that you gained and why?
Ask more questions. Early in the book, Schaller says, “More can be learned by asking questions than by giving answers” (p. 24). He goes on to support this thesis by helping the change agent develop a series of questions that will help the interventionist discover the problems that are keeping a congregation from growing. A change agent should ask a lot of questions. Schaller is so sure of this that he devotes an entire chapter to a list of 393 questions and says, “The questions presented in this chapter should not be viewed as a complete inventory” (p. 188)!
The discussion in Chapter 7: European or American? was extremely insightful for me. As part of a “made-in-America” denomination, I understand better why my denominational leaders do not talk about the reformers as much as the European denominations do. A joke I have with a friend of mine who is a Methodist pastor is that the Methodist must not see the Holy Spirit because they never talk about Him. He responds with, “Oh, we see Him. We just don’t bath in the Holy Spirit like you crazy C&MA guys.” The distinctions between European and American congregations will be very helpful with me as I attempt to acculturate people from other denominations into my congregation. It will also be very helpful when I am asked to consult with a congregation different than my own.
What will you change about yourself and your tactics as a result of this reading?
I will be slow to offer answers and quick to ask more questions. The goal of a change agent is to understand what needs to be changed and how. I cannot achieve that goal if I enter a situation with a ready-made solution.
Historically, leaders achieved their position by virtue of experience on the job and in-depth knowledge. They were expected to have answers and to readily provide them when employees were unsure about what to do or how to do it. The leader was the person who knew the most, and that was the basis of their authority.
Leaders today still have to understand their business thoroughly, but it’s unrealistic and ill-advised to expect them to have all the answers. Organizations are simply too complex for leaders to govern on that basis. One way for leaders to adjust to this shift is to adopt a new role: that of coach. By using coaching methods and techniques in the right situations, leaders can still be effective without knowing all the answers and without telling employees what to do.
Coaching is about connecting with people, inspiring them to do their best, and helping them to grow. It’s also about challenging people to come up with the answers they require on their own. Coaching is far from an exact science, and all leaders have to develop their own style, but we can break down the process into practices that any manager will need to explore and understand. Here are the three most important…
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