I have been offering organizational leadership consulting and coaching for many years. My dissertation focused on status inequalities among members of community health centers. By federal law, federally funded neighborhood health centers were required to have representatives of their patient population on their board of directors.
Initially, I wanted to understand what it took for mostly poor and minority community health center clients to function as decision-making equals with the mostly White medical professionals and administrators.
I learned how power is used in organizations: how people get it, share it, hoard it, give it up, and retain it. I learned clients had power only to the extent that the physicians and administrators were willing to share it.
There were some clients on their board who, by force of personality, earned the respect of their highly educated counterparts. They were able to weigh in on very important decisions about how healthcare was administered in their communities. In others, client members had power on their boards only to the extent that the more powerful members allowed them to have it.
As a result, my work has increasingly become focused on how to help leaders gain and use their power for themselves, their organizations, and the higher good. Enter the initial concept of the Pathfinders Online Membership Program.
Where the idea of Pathfinders began
Early in my career at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, I was fortunate to have my research supported for over 10 years by Dr. Maconda Brown O’Connor, a noted Houston philanthropist. As chair of the Brown Foundation, she was responsible for overseeing their generous gifts to nonprofits throughout Houston. Her particular interests were in child development programs and in the government. She believed that both were led by hard-working, beleaguered people. She appreciated my research with its dual focus on organizational effectiveness and leadership effectiveness. She supported the writing of my co-authored book, Reframing Change: How to Deal with Workplace Dynamics, Influence Others and Bring People Together to Initiate Positive Change. We talked about my commitment to get the results of the research out to those who could use them.
I felt compelled to finish what Maconda and I began and to create an affordable program based on all I’ve learned with her support.
For the last 10 years my colleagues and I have trained and consulted organizational leaders based on the guidelines in Reframing Change. Two years ago we offered a multi-session face-to-face course to senior-level management of the Houston Health Department. Last year we offered it online to their mid-level management. Then COVID-19 hit. Given they were in healthcare, only a few were able to push through to completion.
Consistent with my implicit pledge to Maconda, I began developing an online course comparable to the course we held at the health department, extending it to all levels within the organization in multiple public and private industries. But it was too rigorous for people trying to work from home.
Then I envisioned a membership program, learned how to structure it at the Membership Academy, and haven’t looked back.
In my mind, the difference between a membership program and an online course is a function of time commitment. So instead of heavy reading requirements, videos, and more content, we settled on a high-value, minimal time commitment, ever-evolving curriculum.
We then considered a mini version of Reframing Change or offering a specific subset of it. But the recent racially charged events hit home and virtually defined the course focus.
In the aftermath of George Floyd’s (2020) gruesome murder caught on video for those interminable eight minutes and 46 seconds, organizational leaders were calling me to help them work through previously hidden racial tensions in their organizations. I wrote new blog posts presenting concepts, research, and skills for those interested in learning how to convey racial and social justice issues in the workplace and their communities.
We adopted a unique position for this course at Leading Consciously. Other consultants provide the broad societal analysis or training on how to conduct racial dialogues.
We expose our vulnerabilities as we all navigate the turbulent racial justice terrain.
We don’t just write about or teach our personal opinions but also include what the sizable literature on implementing racial justice has to say.
We offer guidance on what to do and what works, and provide practice opportunities so it all sticks.
How you can meet your racial and social justice goals with us
In a broad sense, our goal is to help you “level up.” We are assuming that anyone who wants to join a membership group devoted to racial and social justice wants to level up their skills. This is a difficult arena. Successfully addressing racial and social justice issues requires a willingness to increase agility, resilience, and capacity to connect with others.
Pathfinders is intended to
Raise your awareness of the presence of systemic and internal racism
Increase your understanding of the personal and societal impact of racism
Promote your self-empowerment in becoming antiracist and an ally for justice
Provide you with tools to take effective action against microaggressions and for social justice
Joining our membership group means you are willing to have your assumptions challenged, learning the many ways in which you might grow. What I’ve learned in doing this work is that the requirement to do something beyond my comfort level frequently reveals where I’m stuck. My choice is to level up and meet that challenge or stay where I am.
Those of you who endeavor to walk this path with us should know that we’re there with you, through your triumphs and through your stuck places. If you stay with us, read the materials, and follow practice exercises, you will find yourself growing into a better version of yourself. And that’s what we all want eventually.
What are the requirements of my membership in Pathfinders?
Have a willingness to learn and to grow. This is the most important one.
Read one blog post every two weeks. There’s a new post every week.
Post your thoughts about the blog. Ask your questions. And respond to others’ posts. In a membership community, people learn from one another.
Do the practice exercises. People think if they read and understand they can then implement, but there’s a huge difference between reading about how to ride a bicycle vs. actually getting on that bike and riding it.
Attend the coaching calls held once or twice a week. You’ll discuss what happened when you practiced and learn techniques on how to be more effective.
Track the time you spend on each activity (Founding members only)
This should only take you 3 hours for every two-week module. We are asking our Founding members to keep accurate time records online so that we can monitor how long it actually takes and adjust expectations or requirements accordingly. We also ask you to give feedback on what you like and don’t like about all aspects of the course. Your recommendations and input are invaluable to us.
Check out the Q&A we’ve developed for more information on this membership program.
What about CEUs?
Yes! We’ve been approved to offer CEUs in the state of Texas through the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. We plan to expand this offering. Please let us know your profession. That will help us determine which continuing education providerships to apply for.
Thanks for listening. We hope you join us.
Questions to ask yourself
How much am I willing to commit myself to this journey?
Am I aware of where I need to grow and stretch?
Leading Consciously concepts and skills covered in this blog post
Commit to personal change
Set a direction, not fixed outcomes
Learn from resistance
Accept responsibility for your own contributions
We are a leadership development firm that helps people and organizations create resilient, sustainable, multicultural, and inclusive settings. The ability to lead consciously can help you gain true awareness and earn the respect and trust of others.
It’s the assumptions we have about people’s lives that are the biggest obstacles to growth, awareness, and success. We help you understand how those assumptions are preventing you from becoming the best you can be as an organization, an inclusive leader, and a person.
Ask us about our leadership development programs:
Pathfinders: Leadership for Inclusion and Equity is our online membership program designed to develop leadership and change-making principles and skills in multicultural organizations. You'll discover how to recognize racism, promote inclusion, and join in insightful, respectful exchanges of views and opinions tackling a variety of concepts.
ChangeMakers Online is our intensive, skill-based program. You will learn how to respond more flexibly to rapid change (leadership agility) and different others (cultural agility), recoup after challenges (resilience), and form strong and collaborative relationships (connection). With these advanced skills, you are better able to lead yourself and others toward higher levels of success.