How do we become better leaders? That is the focus of today’s show, figuring out how to deal with the added pressures of being a leader as a minority and also learning how to be a better leader. I talk with Shayna Hammond Founder & CEO of Lead For Liberation and IndigoWomen, whose understanding of leadership started at a very young age when her teacher told her even though she was quiet, she still was a leader.
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About the Interviewee:
Shayna Renee Hammond is a leadership and life coach who has developed thousands of leaders within the education and nonprofit sectors for nearly twenty years. She is the founder and CEO of Lead For Liberation and IndigoWomen, a coaching practice dedicated to creating spaces, methods, and conditions for Black women in leadership to thrive.
Shayna earned a master’s degree in the art of teaching from Johns Hopkins University and a master’s of education degree focusing on administration and supervision from National-Louis University.
Richard Dodds 0:00
Coming up later in the episode,
Shayna Hammond 0:02
but how are people experiencing you? What you know, how do they feel when they’re around you something that separates a manager from a leader is how someone makes someone feel. You know, leaders are those people who really influenced us to be better people who influence us to see parts of ourselves that maybe we haven’t seen before. And so really get introspective about how you’re having that kind of impact on people. And how are people thriving and growing, who are around.
Richard Dodds 0:34
This is still talking to like a show about giving perspectives to issues that black people face every day. I’m your host, Richard. One thing that I’ve learned is that you never know who’s watching. Analyzing the things that you do, watching the steps that you make. Listen to the words that you say, and whether or not they match up to your actions. You never know who you’re influencing around you, who could be watching the way that you treat people or even the way you treat yourself. dictionary.com describes leadership as a person who guides or directs a group. Leadership isn’t a job title given to a person with certain qualities. And you don’t have to be a CEO or even a manager, the league leaders come in all shapes and sizes and whether or not you like it, we’re all leaders, we all have the chance to influence the world around us and help make the world a better place. In the workplace. Leaders are the ones that push the company forward. By the same token, they can also be the ones that hold the company back. As a leader, you have the chance to positively and negatively influence your environment. You can be the person who helps guide and influence others. You can also be the one that causes harm to others. When you’re a leader, you’re responsible for actions that occur within your team and organization. Well, that’s it, how do we become better leaders. That is the focus of today’s episode, figuring out how to deal with the added pressures of being a leader as a minority, and also learning how to be a better leader. After the break, I talked to Shana Herrmann, founder and CO lead for liberation, an indigo woman whose understanding of leadership started at a very young age when her teacher told her even though she was quiet, she was still a leader. If you’d like what we’re doing here, still talking black. The best way to show your support is by liking writing and sharing our content by emerge from our store as still talking blog.com forward slash shop or donating using the link in the show description. Every little bit helps. Thank you for your continued support.
Shayna Hammond 2:39
My name is Shana Renee Hammond, founder and CEO of indigo women and lead for liberation. I’m a leadership coach and a spiritual life coach.
Richard Dodds 2:47
Alright, thanks for coming on. It’s great to have you.
Shayna Hammond 2:50
Thank you. It’s great to be here.
Richard Dodds 2:52
Tell us a little bit about the journey and how you got to the place that you are now.
Shayna Hammond 2:57
Where do I start the journey and how I got to the place I am. I usually go back to my first day of school. My first day of school was actually in a small town called Pinckney, Michigan. Anybody who knows anything about Michigan usually makes a face like that, like me is a very rural town in Michigan about two hours outside of Detroit. I’m convinced we were the first black family to ever set foot in Pinkman. Last, and my first day of school, I was only five years old. I go to get on the bus. And all the way students moved to the edge of their seats. They didn’t let me sit down. They called me monkey they threw things at me. And the bus driver didn’t do anything, just sat there and acted as if nothing was happening. So I spent the first day of school swaying up and down the aisle crying, not knowing why because then like, you know, this was early 80s. And so my introduction to race in school was on the same day, that very first day, and it never left me. And luckily I had much better experiences schooling experiences. When I later moved to Washington, DC when I was 10. I had my first black teacher, and he literally changed everything. It was the first teacher to see me as a person to even call me a leader when I had become very quiet and very kind of to the side. I didn’t want to cause any, you know, commotion or attention and he really saw me he was the first teacher to really see me. And I went into education. Because of that. I became a teacher. I became a principal very, very early on when I was only 25 and led a middle school in Baltimore, Maryland, then went on to train principals, and notice some gaps in leadership training. And the gaps I noticed were around race, diversity, inclusion in leadership practice, as well as emotional intelligence. And so I started LEED for liberation to specifically address workplaces and schools. Culture gaps were there were students like me who weren’t seen who weren’t included, who, you know, were made to feel like school just wasn’t for them. And unfortunately, adults feel that way too, oftentimes. And so I’ve dedicated my life to this work, and I’m very grateful to do it.
Richard Dodds 5:21
Wow, that’s a lot. It’s a lot of achievements, become a principle at such a young age. That that’s amazing in itself. And I’m from Michigan. And Michigan, you made that. So I made the face like y’all can’t see my face, I made a face because it’s like, I’ve heard of it before. I don’t know exactly where it is. But you say it’s Lars from Detroit. That’s, that’s far from me. And it’s kind of it’s kind of amazing to me. I mean, not amazing, I went, he was amazing. But it’s kind of crazy, that even living in a place in Michigan is a really diverse place. There’s a lot of different kinds of populations in Michigan. But there are certain places and Michigan that me as a black man will not travel to really, I kinda, you know, you have to be. It’s sad that in this day and time, you still have to think about where you go, even in a state that as diverse as Michigan. So like when you were saying that, I really felt that because it started out with you as such a young age, and that kind of stuff sticks with you. And they can do one or two things that can either push you down and make you never open up. Or it can make you open up in a way that you may not if you hadn’t had that happen. So I’m glad that it happened that way. And that you were able to use that as a as a jumping off point to know that it shouldn’t be like this. Let me figure out how to make it better. Yeah, I’m really grateful. So it seems like you have achieved quite a bit. So what what is, what would you say your greatest achievement is as far
Shayna Hammond 6:53
I’m have to say, writing and publishing my first book, I just published my first book this past January 2022. It’s called Becoming an indigo women how to thrive in leadership and life. It was a healing process to write it was very cathartic, it was very scary, I ended up being much more vulnerable than I expected or had planned to be. But I also knew it was its own spiritual practice. In a sense, it’s the backbone to the second organization that I started called Indigo women, where it’s a special place for black women leaders, from any sector, any industry, who are really looking for a place a soft place to do professional development in a holistic way. So we blend leadership development, spiritual development, as well as personal introspection, because I believe as leaders, it’s an inside out work. And it’s really about your relationship with yourself first, and then impacts your relationship with other people and what decisions you make and what leadership roles you take, and that kind of thing. And the book is all centered around the coaching methodology that I wrote, that’s called the our three method. And the three R’s stand for rebirth, reset, and renew. So it’s all about a process for rebirthing resetting and renewing your authentic self. And so definitely, that professionally is what I’m most proud of, and just really grateful to be able to be able to do it.
Richard Dodds 8:22
That’s amazing. That’s an amazing achievement in itself. Just being disciplined to finish a book. There’s so many people who will start but don’t finish. As someone that is a creative like hearing you say it’s almost like a therapy. Like, because I say like doing this as as therapy to me because you end up giving so much of yourself. And like during the process, you try to figure out how much of myself can I give? How much should I give? How much should I pull back? So like that isn’t? That was a tremendous thing. And that’s a thing that you should really be proud of? And I’m sure you are. Thank you. So looking ahead, what is the next big achievement that you are hoping to accomplish?
Shayna Hammond 9:04
I think it’s really a part of that process was really catalyzed by a group coaching process that I’ve done a couple times. And it’s called the Indigo women group coaching experience. And it’s a nine week virtual journey for like I said, women from all industries and sectors. And what I just keep seeing is just more and more women learning about that space coming to that space. And literally, that being a space where they can set themselves free both personally and professionally and just gain that clarity that they’ve been seeking and wanting for so so long. The feedback that we have gotten from the about 60 women who’ve done it already it has been absolutely mind blowing. And you know, so life giving, and my hope and prayer is just that more women join us and join the the community who’s just waiting for them to be mirror for their growth and for their ascension ultimately,
Richard Dodds 10:03
yeah, so you so you build and now you’re like, my next achievement is to grow this as big as I can, it makes makes total sense that that means you got a good head on your shoulder and you’re really looking towards the future because you built that foundation. And I was like, Let’s build on a solid foundation. Thank you, we’ve talked about black woman a lot. And that seems to be like your your people like, let’s, let’s go like I have my focus. So how do you feel that being a black woman has shaped your career? Oh, man,
Shayna Hammond 10:33
in so many ways, especially being a young leader, you know, a young black woman, leading people of all backgrounds who were twice my age, I learned very, very quickly, what my strengths were, what my growth areas were, I learned very quickly how organizations work and function and how white supremacy culture permeates every single sector and industry. And you know, for anyone who’s a part of at least two marginalized groups, even one marginalized group, you learn very quickly, what parts of your identity are accepted, which parts aren’t. And I’ve gone through, you know, the same struggles, many marginalized people go through around the pressure to assimilate being tokenized, knowing you’re being tokenized, and trying to figure out, you know, how do I address myself being tokenized, while also keeping my job, you know, how do I reconcile wanting to leave, but not having the financial means to leave. And you know, just that struggle of not even just in the workplace, and then going out into the real world, and facing all kinds of, you know, macro and micro aggressions constantly. And my blackness and my woundedness is very much conscious, you know, it’s very much at the forefront, and, of course, reflected back to me in different ways. And when I started 10 years ago, LEED for liberation, I worked with all executives of all backgrounds. And I kept hearing more and more very similar stories from black women executives, and black women leaders. And it wasn’t even enough to just kind of carve out a specific program, I was like, this needs its own space, its own container. on a spiritual level, I just kept getting the download that there’s, there’s a need for just a different space, a different container, and a freedom, if you will, to make it you know, the space be whatever it needs to be for the women who we ultimately attract. And that’s what it’s been for the past two years, I’m just really clear that there’s a reason there’s a purpose, I’m here in this lifetime, as a black woman. Whenever I’m coaching black women, the spiritual life aspects of my work seem to just kind of rise up on their own and very much so just kind of surfaced themselves in very natural ways. And the breakthroughs that I’m seeing, and my clients, it’s just unreal, and there’s nothing that brings me more joy than to see black people thrive. That’s just everything I’ve done professionally. It’s all the kind of common thread has been black liberation. And I love black people. I love being black, you know, and I just want to see us do well. And even when I think about, you know, I often get the question, well, if you narrow and focus on black women, do you feel like you know, you’re leaving anyone out? Anyone who does any kind of laboratory work knows that when you focus on a particular group, what you’re doing is transferable to everyone, it can support everyone, it will support everyone, especially those most proximate to the group that you’re supporting. So I know that by supporting Black women, I’m supporting all black people. And so that nothing to me brings me more joy and satisfaction and a sense of pride than that.
Richard Dodds 14:03
That’s beautiful. It’s something that you said, and it’s something that I’ve thought about quite a bit. It’s like every time every time you are part of a marginalized group, you get an extra weight. I like to say, Wait, and one of my episodes I talked about is called the very first episode, actually, it’s called, is it because I’m black. And I talk about the way of carrying around my blackness everywhere I go to where it’s not just being but everything is scaled up against us. This has something to do with the color of my skin. Right? And I always thought that, you know, every time you add a layer to that, that’s another way that you’re adding. So it’s like I’m black. And then you say Oh, I’m a black woman, or an especially if you start to add other things into Oh, like our Black LGBTQ woman, or it’s always an extra layer, and there’s so much to have to contain with that. So, so being a black woman and leadership, and then you say being a young black woman, and leadership, have you ever come up against any resistance that people that you you were tasked with leading?
Shayna Hammond 15:14
Of course, it’s been like, what, 20 years almost now and to the work I’ve been doing, I’m so I’m no longer 25. But I, I’ve had so many experiences and so many different levels of resistance. And I think what I’ve noticed is the further I get in my leadership, the more subtle the resistance gets. And Eve also more biting it gets, because it’s so subtle that sometimes I don’t even realize it’s there until there’s, you know, really strong concrete resistance. But when I think about resistance to what I’ve been doing, even when I think about how I started LEED for liberation, I was very purposeful and not actually starting it as a nonprofit, and I received a lot of resistance within my sector around that, because that’s what you do, you know, you get a board, you get a 501 C three, you, you know, go to the same funders, and that’s what you do. But having, you know, a lot of friends and colleagues who and watching them start nonprofits, specifically my black friends and colleagues, I noticed the level of resistance that they would get from funders and board members and pressure to really, you know, de, well, I say, also sanitize what they were doing, you know, and really kind of water it down. And I just refuse to do that when decided not to go that route, and also received resistance and getting, you know, into a couple of doors, right. And there were explicit doors closed, because I did not go the traditional status quo route of starting an organization. And so, you know, the 10 year journey has been met with lots of obstacles, you know, we’ve had our own financial obstacles, we’ve had staffing obstacles, we’ve also had a lot of triumphs, and I’m happy to say we’ve just we’re now in our best two years we’ve ever had coming off of our most, you know, challenging two years before that. Yeah. And I think it was just really trusting the download that I kept receiving from spirit over and over, like, you’re on the right path, I gave you a specific assignment, go do that assignment, you know, and that’s how I’ve grown to live my life. And in the end, it usually it does turn out exactly the way it’s supposed to. But resistance is everywhere. I mean, everywhere.
Richard Dodds 17:51
So many different things. It’s like man could be underneath you. And it could be like, Oh, you’re a woman, I don’t want to listen to you. Or, Oh, you’re black. I don’t want to listen to you. Oh, oh, you’re only 30 You’re only 25. I don’t want to listen to you. So so many things to overcome. And it’s like, look, I’m trying to work towards the same goal as you I prosper you prosper.
Shayna Hammond 18:13
Exactly. I’m so glad you mentioned those to you, as you were talking, I was thinking about different memories of people of all backgrounds, you know, having a scarcity mindset really of like there’s not enough to go around. And I’m specifically thinking about, you know, times in different organizations when I was inside another organization, and thinking that there’s not enough room for, you know, the fullness of black people to thrive in the organization and the gatekeeping that happens with us sometimes right and like, and how white supremacy culture creates this illusion that there’s just not enough resources, there aren’t enough, there’s not enough money to go around. There aren’t enough positions, only one person can shine at a time. And what that does to relationships is just really sad.
Richard Dodds 19:05
Yeah, it’s funny that you say relationships just because I haven’t. Well, I had another podcast about relationships. And one of the things that I’ve brought up in the past on that particular podcast is that if you’re in a relationship with somebody and it doesn’t even have to be romantic, if we think about just relationships in general, like are all black people are in relationships, some some type of manner. But if you’re in a relationship with someone, or work relationship, you’re leaving someone someone’s leaving you and you’re trying to win. That intrinsically is a problem just because if you win, I mean, somebody has to lose. So it’s like, well, we keep that mindset like I gotta win. That means that you’re going to be doing things that make other people lose. And that’s not the place that we need to go.
Shayna Hammond 19:53
Not at all. I call it the so I call it white supremacy, culture, this sick collective consciousness It is a consciousness that we unfortunately were all born into, that does say, there’s not enough to go around everyone for themselves, whatever you need, take it, and don’t trust anybody. And we’re all separate, which is a complete lie, you know, and like abundance says, there’s enough to go around, we can all win. When I rise, you rise, we rise. And there’s just such a difference, I can tell a difference. And the clients that I have the joy of working with, I can always tell immediately, when I meet them, what kind of mindset they have based upon how they talk about their role, and how especially they talk about the people that they work alongside.
Richard Dodds 20:40
That’s a very interesting thing. If you really want to get to know someone, let them talk. That’s, that’s good advice in a lot of things. If you’re dating, if you add a job, just let somebody somebody’s going and just listen, to stop talking for a minute. Listen,
Shayna Hammond 20:56
yeah. I’m leery of people who have a really tough time given other people, their flowers, you know, those people who like can’t compliment anybody. And if they do, it’s like an underhanded compliment. And they have to immediately follow up with some kind of criticism about them. Yeah, I’m very leery about people like that. And usually, that’s a scarcity mindset, right? They think that like, if I put this shine on this person, then that means I’m less than, and it’s just sad. And it’s very detrimental to relationships.
Richard Dodds 21:28
Yeah, that kind of thinking goes back to, I gotta pull somebody else down to be equal. But if you pull somebody else down, you’re still in the same place, still saying you’re still down, but you just brought somebody with you, like rise up, and then you can rise above, but you don’t have to pull somebody down and get up to another level. It doesn’t have to be that way. No,
Shayna Hammond 21:49
and we need each other to rise, like I have not gotten to where I am, by myself by any means, by any means. From the time the story I told about my fifth grade teacher, to there have been so many colleagues and mentors, and, you know, friends who have supported me, who continue to support me now, there’s no way I could have done half the things I’ve done by myself,
Richard Dodds 22:11
the black community, the community, the world, I just, we just have so much healing that we need to do, just because we’re so separated, you start to think about humanity is separated by region by by wealth, like lack of wealth, intelligence, background history, culture, inside of culture, good hair, bad hair, light skin, dark skin, just, we’re just so divided, and we’re still just one people.
Shayna Hammond 22:42
We are and that’s that, and that stuff isn’t even of us. Like it’s not, it’s not who we are, it’s a big lie. We are love like that. At the end of the day, we are love and love is expansive, it’s inclusive. It’s beautiful. And it’s it’s growth based, you know, it’s not even focused on separation or comparison or anything like that all of that separation is white supremacy, culture. And the more that we do our healing, and really wake up to our own consciousness and separate ourselves from the sick, collective consciousness, that’s when we thrive, that’s when we get rooted in our power. That’s what I love seeing the women you know, I’m with when they do that work and commit to doing it, of course, over and over and continually. It’s beautiful. I mean, I love to see it. And I’m just hoping more and more people. And I’m seeing more and more people carve out spaces much like the one I’ve carved out. And it’s not, you know, by accident, I think we’re in a stage of the Divine Feminine rising and really excited about all the healing that’s on the way.
Richard Dodds 23:54
Yeah. So you know, representation is very important, especially in the workplace, you want to see people that look like you and positions that you’re trying to get to what do you what would you say some are some things that us as black people need to do in order to better position ourselves for leadership.
Shayna Hammond 24:14
I think we need to get really clear on what we want. And remember that oftentimes the organizations that we’re interviewing for, that we might even be working for presently need us more than we need them. And it’s really important to get clear on what our zone of genius is, and making sure that we understand what that is and separating that from our zone of competence. So that might be you know, something we went to school around a degree we have that you know, has put money on the table and, and that kind of thing. And that might not be your zone of genius. And so making sure that even before you think about representation, well what do you want to do and what fills you up and make Making sure that that role is something that you can do in a way that will fill you up, you know, because sometimes I think a lot of our ancestors, you know, and they had much more pressure, I think, than we did to represent and to open up doors and to trailblaze. As our ancestors worked so hard, and made so many sacrifices, I think we’re in this kind of new space where we have a little bit of room to really think about now what does it mean to thrive? What does it mean to both represent me and my community and my family and do it in a way that is expansive, that is ease that is joy filled? And those two things can be true at the same time? And while it wasn’t true for our ancestors, I’m sure that’s their greatest dream for us.
Richard Dodds 25:49
That’s a great point. How important do you think it is to be intentional with what you want, I think about the biggest strides that I’ve made, whether in school, whether in my professional life, you know, for myself, or in a nine to five, the biggest strides I ever made was when I was intentional about what I want it, I looked at a goal. And I said, I gotta figure out how to get there. How important do you feel like that is for the success of us going forward and careers. And even as entrepreneurs,
Shayna Hammond 26:25
I literally had a conversation with a client about this today, this morning, this was my breakfast conversation. As you know, I was meeting with a woman who’s in her own levelup phase. And she knows generally what she wants to do. But she’s not necessarily clear on exactly what it is she doesn’t have specificity. And I will tell you, from a spiritual standpoint, what I have learned is, the more specific I get about what I want, and I write it down, and I set intentions around it, the faster it comes to fruition, I think, you know, being clear on what you want, and setting that intention, and then talking about it. And then being in motion with that intention. I think that’s actually everything. You know, I’m a firm believer that there’s, you know, there are forces way greater than you and I are at play all the time. And the more that we can sync up with that energy, the more that we’re going to be rooted in our own power, we are so powerful as a people. So so, so powerful. And my my prayer, My wish is that more and more of us really, really root into that power, that ancestral power, that spiritual power that’s there and available for all of us.
Richard Dodds 27:37
Yeah, one thing that I really like to do is I like to make a goal, I like to look ahead, see, if it’s a place that I’m trying to go and be like, alright, this is where I’m gonna have to go. So So like, if somebody is trying to get a new job, this is what I tell them, I say, look at the job that you want, maybe five years from now, look at the skills that they’re asking for, what do you have? Alright, what don’t you have? Now go and get those things that you don’t have? and position yourself for that position five years from now? Exactly. And that’s kind of how I’ve always thought I think of a big goal. And then I think of stair steps, how do I get there. And you know, you have to really be intentional, I had an episode about school. And we were talking about how you need to be intentional about the degree that you get, because you can get a degree, that’s a soft degree, that is not going to be as useful as a hard degree, like a steam or STEM degree like engineering or something that has to do with science, something that’s, that’s gonna make you a lot of money. So I’ll also say that once you get into your career, be intentional about where you’re going, just because you’ll get into a place and you’re the people, the company will have an idea of what they want for you. Right. And a lot of times you can float along and go along with what they want for you. And that might not be what you want for yourself. But you could get caught in a wave to where you’re in something for 10 years, and you end up somewhere where you never want it to be. And now you’re looking back at where you want it to go. And it’s 10 years away now, because where you was trying to go to that plays, you got plus, or else now you’re stuck in a place that you might not want to be so being intentional. So important.
Shayna Hammond 29:19
That’s so true. And you made me think about to like, you know, in addition to thinking about what you want, it’s also really important to think about what you want to add to the organization that you’re thinking about joining or the industry you’re thinking about joining because just like you said they have an agenda, what’s your agenda? What are you looking to add? In what ways are they going to be different because of your leadership because you were there because you showed all the way up I think is really important.
Richard Dodds 29:47
Yeah, I’m I’m a firm believer of you get what you give. You not got if you don’t put in the work, you’re not gonna get anything back. It’s like, like whenever I go to a company, I want to make sure that I made myself as valuable as possible, I can learn everything that I need to learn so that when I leave that I made an impact there. And it’ll be felt when I leave. And when I leave, I’ve taken the lessons that I’ve learned there to somewhere else so I can start to rebuild again. So I’m totally what you does, that was a great point that you brought up. So for for those of us in leadership, you know, you talked about you talked about a little bit before. And sometimes you say, being told being a token, that’s something that I think about a lot, like, you know, it’s kind of it kind of reminds me of when I was in college, like I had good grades, right? And affirmative action still was a thing. So it’s like, even though I had good grades, it was like, hmm, am I here? To feel like, you know, the set amount of black people that are supposed to be here that I earned my spot? Do I deserve my spot? Am I smart enough to really do this thing? Yeah. So I mean, I don’t think that goes away, in certain places, because certain places have, like, especially publicly traded companies, they have to have a certain amount of diversity in the workforce. So how do you overcome that imposter syndrome? Thinking that maybe you got somewhere? Because the opposite is true? Sometimes you feel like you’re not somewhere because of your color, but then sometimes you can feel like you are somewhere because of your color. How can you overcome that?
Shayna Hammond 31:26
Because sometimes it is truth. It is true. It is. Sometimes you are there, and it’s actually not imposter syndrome, and you were there to fill a quota, you know, or they have a workplace culture where they put people of color in leadership positions, but don’t really give them the power and decision making power that they should have in that leadership position. And so then you’re left to feel like wait, well, is it me? Do I not have the qualifications? Am I not performing? Well, where it’s, you know, also a part of that specific organization’s culture. So it’s really important, there was a great article written about this. And it talks about how, you know, we need to kind of stop focusing on imposter syndrome and focus on the conditions of, of organizations and how they’re feeding into tokenism and tokenizing people of color and tokenizing women of color in different ways, by not really giving people the trust, to do their jobs that they signed up for. And so there’s, there’s the I always invite leaders to really think about both think about, yes, the growth that they need to, of course, prioritize, and the limiting beliefs they need to release, and also to look at the workplace culture that they’re in, and whether that culture is actually a culture that is worthy of them. And that’s a culture where they can actually grow and thrive, because a lot of times the answer is no. And it might mean moving somewhere else. And the issue is not at all that person, you are qualified, you are extremely powerful, you are a huge asset. But this organization isn’t positioned in the way to really be worthy of what you have going on and what you can offer and it might be time to go to another organization.
Richard Dodds 33:16
That’s, that’s so valid. I think about that kind of stuff all the time. And, like, I think the way that I’m thinking about it now has kind of changed a little bit just because no matter how I got in the spot that I’m at, I’m going to take advantage of being there, I’m gonna get everything that I need, while given what they require, but I’m gonna get everything I need out of it. And I’m gonna keep pushing, and I’m gonna keep pushing until I can’t push anymore. And then when I can’t push anymore, I notice when it’s time to go, yes. Because, because I mean, like, in a way that’s almost like, it’s kind of like a backwards way of saying it, but in a way, it’s like black privilege. It’s like we were like they’re trying to tokenize this, but it’s a privilege that we’re getting into a place that we might not be as qualified for are we are overqualified for it, but they’ve given it to us, because we need to fill a quota. Take advantage of that, because those people who have uncles and, and different connections and oh, that’s their dad’s golfing, buddy, whatever that situation be. They’re not apologizing for getting put into those positions that they may not may or may not deserve to be in. So now it’s like, I feel like what no matter the reason I’m here, I’m going to embrace it and not worry about whether or not I deserve to be here.
Shayna Hammond 34:33
Exactly. And it goes back to what we were saying about knowing exactly what you want. And that’s the power of it, knowing who you are, and what you want will keep you rooted.
Richard Dodds 34:43
That is so powerful that that’s great right there. So what are some things we can do to overcome some stereotypes that comes with being black especially like in a workplace? I’ve talked about this before? And it’s it’s like I think for me it’s like a delicate balance because How much do you correct and educate? How much do you, you know, try not to take events and rise above because I look at even every situation, you have to be way more calm and way more collected and way more educated and way more prepared, a lot of times to really be recognized, it takes so much more like takes two times just to move the same amount that it will take the one we got to do double. So how do we start to overcome some of those those stereotypes and things as black people in the workforce,
Shayna Hammond 35:35
I bring it back to in our program, we really focus on first self care, we focus on ourselves, and you just said we have to do so much more. There’s so much emotional labor that’s required of us, there’s much more energy that’s required of us, there’s much more strategic thinking that’s required of us. I mean, we’re playing chess all the time, we’re constantly thinking about how things are perceived, how things, what the implications are, for lots of different people, we’re carrying a load, most people aren’t. And so because we’re carrying a load, most people aren’t, I always start with us first. And so I think it’s really important as leaders, first and foremost, to make sure if you don’t already have one, you have some sort of spiritual practice, or contemplative practice, that brings you back to you, brings you back to your consciousness. So before we even think about stereotypes, because those are also projections of other people on to us. And to me, that’s always secondary, that’s not primary. So first, it’s about us, and making sure that we’re doing everything we need to do to prioritize our health, our mental health, our physical health, our social health. And so that’s a huge component of our program is really getting back to self, then when it comes to stereotypes and microaggressions that happen based upon those stereotypes. It’s really about making sure you are checking in with yourself around what capacity you have to address them, and not judging yourself or other people for how they address it or how often they address it. We don’t always have the capacity, nor is it our job to teach anyone else, what they’re doing and the impact etc. But what I do know is helpful for us is to make sure that we’re advocating for ourselves, and we’re speaking and not cell silencing ourselves. Because you know, white supremacy, culture will have us in a lot of places in a lot of ways, silence our emotions, silence our perspectives, because we’re so angry, or we’re so you know, upset. And we’re not we’re overly concerned about how it’s going to be perceived if we speak up for ourselves. And so some of us take it on, I know I did this a lot, take it on, internalize it. And then the internalization turns into stress turns into health problems, turns into sadness, depression, you can go on down the line, right? So I’m always focused on us. And so first and foremost, it’s about taking care of us and making sure we have outlets, whether it be, you know, girlfriends therapists, where we can unpack these traumas, because they are racial traumas that happen, we need someplace to go to process that, but it’s really important to have that. And then in the workplace, we get to decide how and when we’re going to confront those things. And which is why a lot of people I know myself, you know, being really strategic about what leadership roles you decide to go after. And making sure they’re roles where you really will have decision making power that will make it a place where those kinds of microaggressions and things don’t happen as much. And just again, being it comes back to being truthful and knowing about who you are and what you want, regardless of how it’s going to be perceived. You know, again, I just always think about our ancestors and the greater pressure that they had. We all have it, but that pressure around, you know, what I do reflects everyone reflects, you know, the black community and that kind of thing. And what we have to think about first is what’s going to make us proud what’s going to make our children proud, what does leading authentically mean to us and being at peace with that, regardless of how it may be perceived by others. I think about it comes up a lot in our program, the whole kind of angry black woman stereotype. If I advocate for myself, they’re gonna call me the angry black. Then I call clients to let you know, well, there’s some PAC that you know, in what ways is your anger justified? And many times when they explain the dilemma they’re going through a very human response is anger. And usually what’s behind anger is sadness is hurt, usually in some way, shape or form. They have experienced a long standing micro aggression at work. And it’s been mounting and mounting and any human being would express their emotion as anger. And sometimes that may be the emotion to express in that moment, regardless of how it might be viewed or packaged, etc. It’s really important that we give ourselves permission to be human, because so many workplace cultures, unfortunately, are destructive, in that they work to strip us of our humanity. And it’s really important that we don’t allow any kind of environment to do that.
Richard Dodds 40:38
I feel like a lot of times that it is easier said than done. But like I said, like, we always felt like we have to be on our best behavior, because any any slip, then we get put into another category, any little slip. And it’s so unfair that like, especially like the angry, angry black woman, one, that’s the thing that I think about all the time, I have somebody say, like, they want to call me an angry black woman, but don’t Asian woman get mad, they get angry, don’t white, when they get angry, don’t Hispanic get when they get angry, every woman get angry, but then we get labeled with angry black woman. And that’s not fair. And it just, it’s like another level of elevation that we got to live up to this unfair measurement of being somebody.
Shayna Hammond 41:25
And that’s the thing. We don’t need to live up to that. vibration. Yeah, all about liberation. And there’s no way that liberation to me is not expressing and feeling my full range of emotions, just like anybody else. And I think the more that we really take the risk, because in a lot of places, it is a risk, let me be clear, it is a risk. But the more of us that take that risk to be us to be human, the easier it’s going to be for all of us, it will be more commonplace. And just the act of us being authentic will be the lesson in of itself. And so my hope for us is that we less and less feel like we have to assimilate or mold into anything that that we realize our power. And we go to places to build our own tables to build our own organizations to build our own workplace cultures, where everyone can thrive. Because you know, the people who know most about it are those who’ve been marginalized. Yeah,
Richard Dodds 42:24
I think I think what you said is very, very onpoint with the especially building your own table, and you know, it takes so long sometimes to be comfortable. And I seen this with different things and like a topic for another day, even just the way that I was analyzing the whole thing that has been going on, everybody’s been talking about it, the Will Smith stuff, the way that I kind of analyzed his behavior. And like I kind of I’m not I don’t want to get into the whole the whole thing. But what I see from from that, and previous things has been best resurfaced and whatnot, is a man that’s been trying to live up to being Will Smith. Right. And he hasn’t, I don’t think that he’s allowed himself to just be well, Smith just to be himself. But he’s living up to Will Smith. And as we see you can hold it in for so long. But especially if you don’t have an outlet, it’s going to come out in a way that’s not always going to be the most healthy way. You know, it’s just gonna come out. So not being yourself in an environment. If you feel like you’re in an environment for so long. It’s always so long, you’ll be able to hold it and then you go and blow. And then it’s gonna be 10 times worse and everything that you’ve been fighting against, you’re just gonna can’t fire for people.
Shayna Hammond 43:42
That part. That’s why I went back to self right, it all comes back to how we’re caring for ourselves, and giving ourselves permission to be the authentic us. And I couldn’t agree with you more. And it’s just, it really is traumatizing. I don’t think we understand, like, you know how traumatizing sometimes workplaces can be for people. And when sometimes we’re even afraid to label it like that. Because it’s like, well, it’s not that bad. And it could be worse. And when it’s like no, you know, I have coached in so many leaders over the years who have literally been traumatized and traumatized by being dehumanized and not allowed to be who they are, and really called out for being who they are not recognize, you know, for their contributions for their talents for their gifts constantly, you know, being under compensated, and not trusted to do their roles. Those kinds of things. Take a psychological toll on people. And it builds up and up and up. And if we don’t do our work to really stay on a healing path, like you said it could be very destructive.
Richard Dodds 44:53
How important do you think it is for us to acknowledge traumas and things because I I think a lot of times we try to avoid them and try to work it out. I’m thankful to have a job. But you know, like, if you if you’re not happy, like how important would you say as being a leader, especially being an effective black leader, and then you can add on any other things to that, like in a bad effect of black female leader or young, black female, out? How important is it to be true with yourself about how you’re feeling in order to be effective?
Shayna Hammond 45:26
Oh, my goodness, I have a chapter literally about telling the truth, and how telling the truth is its own spiritual practice. And we have to be able to tell the truth to ourselves. And I can tell you, and I’ve heard clients say this, I used to say this at one point and have this fear. I think for some of us, we have this fear that if we recognize trauma, and that we are healing through trauma, that we’re also saying, We’re broken, or we’re also saying that were victims. And I’m not about to say that because I am not for victimhood, we are not victims, I’m a victor. And I get that. And what I really hope that we can embrace is that two things can be true at the same time, we can be experiencing trauma and not be a victim or in victim mentality at the same time. You know, and that’s the complaint, one of the many complexities of being black, is that you’re kind of in this perpetual state of healing, while also surviving and thriving, all at the same time, you know, like, we’re healing trauma, past, present, and future. And we’re also making sure that we’re doing the necessary things, to keep our eyes on whatever it is that we’re going for. And so there’s something I used to say something around, like, you know, acknowledging your trauma is not at all saying that you are a victim. And I think when more and more people kind of separate those two things, and understand it, it’s not at all endorsing victimhood, I think more of us would choose a path of healing, and be much further along. I think it was Adrian Marie Brown, who said, we’re all we’re both whole and broken at the same time, you know, and it’s so true, we are we’re very complex people. And just because, you know, outside world doesn’t accept the complexity of us. We need to accept that first of ourselves and then of each other, because you know, it might be true, maybe some people aren’t ready for the complexities and depth of us, but we’re ready. And it’s just time to claim the full range of who we are.
Richard Dodds 47:36
I definitely believe that and we just gotta be ourselves. Exactly. So we kind of talked about it a little bit already. But you have a book and to go on man how to thrive, and leadership and life. Yeah, how would you describe it and the goal?
Shayna Hammond 47:52
In just two words, I would say, well, a couple words, I would say a free black woman, it’s a woman who knows exactly who she is. And more importantly, she knows who her sources she knows she’s working on behalf of a of a force greater than her. And she’s in constant seeking and constant reverence of that calling. And she is someone who is very empathetic, who is also very bold, and gives herself permission to express and experience the fullness of who she is. She is someone who puts style who adopts self care as a mindset, not even just a set of practices, but really takes her energy very seriously understands that different spaces also need to be worthy of her. And relationships need to be worthy of her. And she’s in this state of constant healing state of constant growing, and she’s you know, she’s here to thrive, and she knows us our birthright.
Richard Dodds 48:54
You go. So wrapping it all up? What advice would you give black professionals striving for leadership or desiring to be better leaders?
Shayna Hammond 49:07
Hmm. I would say if you don’t already have a practice of focusing on your inner self, I would say start really doing some introspective work around whatever that might mean to you. And I do really mean spiritual. I’m not saying religious, or saying any one denomination over the other, but really just honoring your spiritual self first, and getting still and getting really clear on what it is you’re here to do and for whom, and then in terms of leadership, one, it’s something I’ve always said for many, many years, the most important leadership skill is listening. And so really take time to listen to the feedback that you’re getting around you from maybe your direct reports from your manager, from your colleagues, your peers, and ask people you You know, how are you not only how am I doing and what I’m producing? But how are people experiencing you? What, you know, how do they feel when they’re around you. Something that separates a manager from a leader is how someone makes someone feel, you know, leaders are those people who really influenced us to be better people who influenced us to see parts of ourselves that maybe we haven’t seen before. And so really get introspective about how you’re having that kind of impact on people. And how are people thriving and growing? who are around you?
Richard Dodds 50:34
Wow. That was really thoughtful and insightful. I think that kind of wraps everything up that we’ve been talking about in a bow and you never really think about how much leadership starts from inside of you. And it is crazy, because I can think about it. It’s harder to lead when you’re not right. On the inside.
Shayna Hammond 51:01
Exactly. And I have to give some shout outs to Mr. Vesely my fifth grade teacher because when I was in fifth grade, and I you know, it was coming from that whole Pinckney and I was also an alchemist for a little while that experience and then moved to DC, DC as my home moved there when I was 10. And he, you know, I was a very quiet student, I didn’t say a whole lot, I sat in the back I was, you know, trained to not say a lot, basically, and to not really be seen and to be invisible. And so I was invisible, really tried to make myself invisible in his class. And he made us write in a journal of all of us, every single day, and I am now a journaler, largely because of him. And I will never forget, in my journal, he said something to the effect of you’re a leader. And I was lying leader, I don’t even tell I don’t really talk to anybody. What do you mean, I’m a leader, I’m quiet. And I asked him about it. And I said, Why did you say that? And he said, Shana, I see what you write about in your journal. And I see how you treat people. You are a leader. And that completely shifted my mindset around what leadership means. And so that was very much, you know, informed my response to that question, you know, that never left me I never, it never left me how he made me feel at 10. And how that stills impacted me many, many years, decades later.
Richard Dodds 52:23
Wow. Well, saying I just want to thank you for coming on. This was a great conversation.
Shayna Hammond 52:29
Of course, thank you for having me.
Richard Dodds 52:31
You can find saying this book, becoming an indigo woman, how to thrive and leadership and life on Amazon. You can also find more about Shana at Lee for liberation.com. I want to cook all of her links in the show notes. So again, thank you everyone for listening. Still talking black as a crock culture media LLC production is produced by me, Richard DODDS. Our theme music was created by the DJ blue. Please make sure to rate and subscribe to the show on your favorite podcasting app. You can follow us on Instagram at still talking black, and you can follow my personal account at zoom and that’s D O EDS. S. You can find out more about the show still talking blog.com where you can find previous episodes, Episode transcripts and a link to the shop. So again, thanks for listening. And until next time, keep talking
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