Out in the community, at meetings, in the media, or while talking with others, think of all the people that you come across who criticize Black organizations and/or Black leaders. Often, the ones who talk the most, write the most, or sing the most lack the knowledge needed to define leadership proclivities. I am going to ask you to listen to those who criticize Black leaders followed by asking the question: What makes an effective Black leader?
The truth is that many Blacks who openly criticize Black organizations and their leaders have achieved no real leadership status themselves. The ones who criticize become literate at nothing more than the art of hype and destruction. In the following paragraphs, I shall draw from my several degrees in education, social sciences and counseling psychology (I’ll leave two out) to move beyond (unlike many) in explaining the achieved status needed for effective Black leadership.
Attention Council on Black Minnesotans, or any other organization in search of a new leader, and anyone else attempting to define effective Black Leadership proclivities: Study a person’s personality and cognitive skills in their actions in small groups, because politics and government are different.
Many of the critics confuse politics and government. Politics can be observed at work, in church, in meetings. Politics can exist anywhere. Yes, politics exist in the family. Therefore, defining what you believe to be good signs in the personality of a political leader is essential in deciding on an effective Black leader.
It continues to be my practice to use what the legal profession calls ”distinguished argument.” Any effective Black leader must have this fundamental personality. This trait is what has made me effective on committees that have had measurable outcomes such as the Legacy Committee chaired with the COBM.
Let me explain: When arguing at the Capitol for voter identification, I looked at the positive consequences of my testimony. What is equally important is my being sensitive to the opposition by bringing out their argument during my testimony.
When Melvin Carter spoke after my testimony, he stated much of what I had stated, including historical facts such as Jim Crow laws. Melvin’s argument could have been interpreted as my argument for voter identification, despite Melvin’s testimony in opposition. Several people indicated that he mentioned some of my same points.
Too many times, Black leaders lack this quality of being sensitive to and using the opposition’s argument in this cleaver maneuver. Here, we clearly witness the use of personality and cognition, seasoned with the right touch of emotion.
My education had an emphasis in political science and history. Some of the people who criticize Black leaders have no idea of the basic type of leadership needed to move Black people into the future. They will mention buzz terms such as economic disparity, achievement gap, mental health, crime, jobs, etc. However, they are unable to define the type of leader needed to move these issues.
At issue is whether one leader can lead on all the mentioned issues, or will we need one or the other of the transactional vs. the transformational Black leader? Where is the Black leader who can bring folks together during what we see in today’s Black problems as being focused around conflict and/or competition? Listen, because I am about to give you some real Black leadership thinking.
No matter what the issue, it is likely to be centered on conflict and/or competition. Give me any issue in the Black community and I will show the root causes are conflict and/or competition.
You all must understand this thing called personality, because many Black leaders have ego but are absent of personality. Ego eclipses Black personality when the Black leader lacks the inner spirit that allows him/her to foster relationships between adversaries, including those he/she works with, to snatch ideas, resources and solutions that can be implemented towards outcomes of benefit to Black people. Sounds like someone you know?
Go to work, a committee meeting, any meeting, and start looking for what I call the “foo foo leader” and the “cool leader.” The foo foo leader brings in the outdated, back-in-the-day arguments that work only with a bit of force, blame, guilt and casting Blacks as victims. This leader tries to force others into change, often because of some occurring crisis and/or immediate need.
We need leaders who can develop relationships not only with our friends, but also with those in opposition, because we cannot force those in opposition to understand the need without having that relationship.
To all of you who criticize Black leadership, watch for part 2 of this column on Black leadership and learn. To all of you who really want to understand Black leadership in today’s society, watch for part 2 and implement.
Lucky Rosenbloom welcomes reader responses to 612-661-0923, or email him at [email protected]