The role of empathy as a starting point to address racial injustice in the workplace is a central focus of today’s episode with Alain Hunkins, a passionate leadership consultant, coach, facilitator, and most recently, author of Cracking the Leadership Code: Three Secrets to Building Strong Leaders. (HINT: the secrets involve acting on the interconnected elements of Connection, Communication, and Collaboration). Instead of merely discussing some of the book’s concepts in generalities, we contextualized them in an off-the-cuff discussion of how leaders can employ familiar leadership tools in open conversations with POC on their team and about topics of race with their team as a whole. Among many factors that hold people back from leading with empathy are fear, impatience, power dynamics, and lack of practice. We don’t get past any fears or improve at anything without practice, so start building new anti-racist empathy muscles now. We discuss some specific empathetic behaviors to practice including: listening with the purpose of learning and not fixing or justifying; being open to points of view and experiences with which you have no familiarity and inviting them into decision-making; doing your own research on racism; and self-reflecting on your own conscious and unconscious biases. We don’t claim to have all the answers or even to have gotten it right, but silence is simply not an option. We encourage leaders to get past similar fears and perfectionism and say something.

Lastly, here are some resources we’ve found helpful in our own learning journeys:

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