On The Shoulders Of Giants
I’m keenly aware that all of the opportunities I’ve been afforded are Heavenly gifts. Generations of Blacks before me were the talented and sacrificial laborers that opened the doors through which my generation has passed. Access to higher education, freedom to live where I choose, the right to vote, higher-paying jobs and the ability to own a business are all products of the sacrifice of my predecessors.
Many of us have taken advantage of the opportunities, and as a result, achieved a level of success. In spite of significant professional accomplishments, many of my generation’s Black Professionals, or BlaPros, as I sometimes call us, are disconnected from the true pulse of the needs of the broader Black community. We are accountable for the disconnection and our lack of assertiveness and sense of entitlement lowers the odds developing a servant leader philosophy, mentality or practice: The contributing to the leadership chasm referred to in Where Are Our Moses And Joshuas? Meaningful mentorship from our predecessors is glaringly absent – further perpetuating the leadership gap. The preceding generation seems to show little interest in teaching those of us called to lead the lessons from hard-fought battles for equal access and opportunity.
It certainly appears that the motive for today’s Black leader is less about service and more about acquiring power and maintaining status. Moses was reluctant and called to lead – but all too often, today’s Black legislators and community activists raise their hands shouting ooh, ooh, pick me, pick me! Volunteering is powerful when rooted in the spirit of service but destructive when drenched in pride, ego and selfishness.
True leadership acknowledges the importance of identifying and cultivating emerging leaders. Elder leaders must invest time in mentoring the next generation of Black leaders. This requires personal time spent and constructive opportunities for growth. Moses spent nearly four decades with Joshua before the leadership torch was passed. Grooming the next generation of leaders means granting them seats at the decision-making tables now.
Our collective future is enhanced by sincere, personal investment in cultivating emerging leaders. Wise leaders recognize that time inevitably forces everyone to leave their post. As a community we sharing space, information and decision-making with up and coming Black leaders; then pass the torch before being forced to do so.
The rapid rate of change within America does not afford us the luxury of passivity in the area of leadership development. In order for Blacks in America to reach the promise land of tomorrow we must begin cultivating leadership today.