Black Women in Leadership.
Black Women in Leadership.
NOV 15 2020 | 3 MINS
Written By Brandie Janay Sanders
What is it like being a black woman in leadership at a predominantly white company? Whew. To start it’s been a challenge. Advancement as a black woman is not always received well by others, especially if others have to watch and witness that growth. I am always putting in the effort to stay true to who I am as a black female while advancing as a professional and remaining effective as a leader. Leadership for me is not about a title, it’s about setting an example. However, setting an example for others who may not be happy for you and your growth or respect you as their boss can come with many challenges. Not only am I a black woman, but I was also placed in leadership roles at a young age…. which is another story in itself. People have a hard time when you surpass them or achieve something they may have also been striving for. Because of this, they may try and challenge your authority, belittle you, or disregard your critiques as a leader.
In the past, I was hot-headed, bossy, and somewhat unapproachable as a leader. To this day, managing my emotions is still difficult, but proven to be the most important thing I have learned as a leader. People want and need to be heard. I always try to keep this in mind. Currently, if I feel resistance from others, I strive to take my personal feelings out of it and not jump to be defensive (in the past it didn’t work well for me). Most of the time returned hostility is already to be expected, especially from black leaders. It was important for me to learn that the same things that made me great as a leader could also make me fail. My personality, spark, and sass made me assertive and confident, but could also quickly be perceived as condescending or having too much attitude. To balance who I am and how I want to be as a leader, I had to check myself and my attitude. Listen first, and try and understand another individual's feelings without taking things personally. If I already think I am being attacked, I have already lost the opportunity to find common ground and understanding.
Be humble and take pride in knowing what’s for me will always be for me. As black women, we have to work twice as hard to get the things others feel should be handed to them. It’s exhausting and it’s challenging but it also comes with great rewards when we see results. From our pay to our respect and acknowledgment do not ever let a company treat you as if you are any less deserving of advancement. To the Black Girl with ambition, they expect you to be average, when others have to witness your growths they may be intimidated by the simple fact, you are not what they may have expected. Keep working twice as hard, they see you even when they don’t acknowledge you.