Being Effective LGBT Leaders
If motivation is the match, effective action is the spark. This is what it takes to be effective leader LGBT leaders. Do you have what it takes?
This article is the last in our series highlighting what P-R-I-D-E means to us this month of Pride. P means Power. R is Resiliency. I is Individuality. D means Dedication. E, for us, means Effective because none of the previously discussed qualities of P-R-I-D-E amount to much if we’re not effective LGBT leaders.
Do you have that family member who always has a new job and it’s the new job that they’re finally going to rock? However, they have a million reasons why none of their previous jobs worked out. Do you know that person who’s been talking for years about starting a blog or taking that class or launching their business? Unfortunately, this, that and the other thing always get in the way. If motivation is the match, effective action is the spark.
Stephen Covey, the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said, “Effective leadership is putting first things first.” Yes, we need more queer leaders for effective queer change, but we’ll only have leaders if more queer people put first things first and not first things last.
What can LGBT people do to generate the positive and effective queer change we need?
The most effective queer leaders own it
Own it comes in two parts. The first is that we need more LGBT people to own their LGBTness. Coming out and being out is easier for some than others but necessary for all. Harvey Milk said, “Every gay person must come out. As difficult as it is, you must tell your immediate family. You must tell your relatives. You must tell your friends if indeed they are your friends. You must tell the people you work with. You must tell the people in the stores you shop in.”
Whether you’re in the heart of the country or on the coast, come out at home, come out at work – come out everywhere. It’s harder, though not impossible, for people who know you to reject you because you’re LGBT.
It shouldn’t be legal that we can get fired in 28 states for being LGBT. It isn’t okay that transgender people are nearly four times as likely than the general population to earn less than $10,000 annually. These things can only change when we own who we are and create effective queer change.
Then, be a leader and own the opportunity that comes with honesty. In the business world, join your company’s Business Resource Group (BRG) or Employee Resource Group (ERG) to effect queer change internally. If one doesn’t exist, create one.
The face of America is changing, and businesses know they need to tap their diverse employee base to tap growing diverse markets and stay relevant. As Shelton Goode, Ph.D., said, “One way [business is] doing this is through the innovative use of employee resource groups (ERGs)—voluntary, employee-led groups made up of individuals who join together based on common interests, backgrounds or demographic factors such as gender, race or ethnicity.”
If you believe in your company’s mission, you could and should be the conduit that connects your employer with your community to effectively create queer change.
The most effective LGBT leaders deliver it
It’s not enough anymore to say, “I’m here. I’m queer. Get used to it.” That message served us well once and got us to where we are today. But, now we need to talk about more than our queerness. The queer community often tells society that it should see us for more than what makes us LGBT. Therefore, let’s deliver them more.
At work, in our smaller communities, and in our larger communities, be a leader and add so much value that your colleagues and society see you more for the value you add, the skills you use, and the qualities you have and less for what makes you different from them. It will be when society sees us more for our contributions that we’ll be more effective in creating the positive change that will serve the LGBT community and other minority groups for years to come.
The most effective queer leaders give it
It’s when we give that we get. Giving is not just about giving money. Give value. Give time. Give attention. Give support. Give love. Give. Give. Give. “’Give, and it shall be returned unto you’ (King James Bible, Luke 6:38).”
Give within the LGBT community and give to our allies. When it’s not against yours or our community’s best interest, give to our adversaries. We may not agree with Chick-fil-A’s CEO, Dan Cathy, on marriage equality, but we’ll never forget that Chick-fil-A in Orlando reversed its Sunday hours policy and donated food to first-responders and people who donated blood to help the Pulse nightclub victims and families.
Anne Frank said, “No one has ever become poor by giving.” So, give effectively and don’t stop giving to effect the positive change we want to see.
It’s up to you and every one of us to help the queer community progress. As June comes to a close, don’t forget your pride until next year. Pride all year long.
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