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In this episode, Heather shares some personal and heartfelt stories that need to be shared. She was nudged to share them and to ask listeners some key questions relating to safe spaces to tell all stories at work. Heather invites you to listen to her stories with an open mind and heart, and to share some of your own, making others feel comfortable to show up as their full selves.
- Do your people feel safe to tell their stories?
- How well have you made your people feel included, welcome and accepted for who they are and what they bring to the table?
- Who do you include around your table and who do you exclude?
- Is it okay to present differing views on your team?
- What are the ramifications, whether direct or implicit, when people express differing views?
Making It Safe
I wanted to share things about myself and help think about how we share our stories, how we make it safe for others to share theirs, and how we show up as our best selves as leaders. How many people are we inviting to do that? How do we respond to them? Is there openness inside our workplace?
I talked to somebody who mentioned that her leader complained after coming back from a meeting where they were supposed to be more open about how they felt. In that meeting, he put on a smile and did not choose to be honest because there wasn’t a sense of psychological safety inside that workplace.
Sharing Our Stories
I have been nudged here and there by my team that manages my speaking business, and by my marketing person to start telling my stories more. Well, I’ve shared my story of adversity as a child. I haven’t shared all of them, and some of them are super rich. But it’s not about “Woe is me” or “I’m such a victim.”
It’s more about how much can my stories educate and empower others to tell their stories, and how can I, as a leader in my own right, make it safe for others to tell theirs. I’ve had people say, “I’ve heard some of those great stories. You told about this and about that. I need you to tell those stories more often and tell them to other people.”
Most of you who are listening know my story of being raised in an interracial and interfaith household; my story of rejection, of not being included, not being welcomed at most family events. The pictures on the walls of my grandmother’s house–how that left me feeling not good enough, and not belonging to one particular group.
I felt like I was on both sides of the coin, never squarely standing in the shoes of one side or another. But even though I felt the battle to belong, I also felt this unique understanding of where both sides might be coming from. I know it’s very unique so I don’t suppose that others are going to equally or easily be able to understand people’s views as deeply as I do. But I do try to help people do that.
No Holding Back
My grandmother and I had a very good relationship. While she was kind of the matriarch that kept me out in many ways, she was also the person who uplifted me. She would always call me her little lawyer. No wonder I went to law school, really trying to please her and trying to belong
When I talked about not being invited to family gatherings, I was about 36 years old and my grandmother passed away. I had a choice to make. My mom said, “She passed away. Do you want to come to the funeral?”
It would have been the very first time I’ll ever attend a family gathering like that. I just decided I am no longer going to limit my voice and minimize my presence. No one is going to hold me back. Not one more day could I be held back from coming and showing up. When I walked in, many people didn’t know who I was but I walked with confidence and I was finally in that inner circle. It felt so good to be there.
It’s more about how much can my stories educate and empower others to tell their stories, and how can I, as a leader in my own right, make it safe for others to tell theirs. – @HeatherRYounger #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet
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