[Column written by Jessica Lightbourne, which is Part 2 of a five part series]

As a black man, your leadership journey can pose additional challenges, and it becomes even more important to appear powerful in the boardroom as you prepare to take your career to the next level. Continuing this series, we will guide you through the Executive Leadership Path.

Take advantage of the evaluation. Familiarize yourself with your work style and personality. Learn your strengths so that you can derive from the place of power and let those strengths shape your personal brand. Learn how you interfere with yourself and what makes you crazy.Find words of gratitude [also known as your love languages]..

Ask for feedback. Gather as much data as you can about yourself from as many sources as possible. The more data you have, the easier it is to validate the information and the harder it is to deny who you are. The path to success will be smoother if we can leverage special sources to break down personal and external barriers.

Ask for feedback everywhere. Introspection is only one side of self-awareness. Sometimes our ego gets in the way and we live in a world of denial. Studies have shown that experienced and strong leaders are less likely to know themselves due to prejudice or false self-confidence. It also reduces the chances of getting unilateral developmental feedback. That’s why you need to look for it. First, approach trusted friends and advisors and seek their honest opinion so that you can discover more data. We don’t know what we don’t know, but many people around us do. By approaching someone you trust first, even the most successful CEOs can easily get into difficult areas. It is human nature to avoid feedback. That’s why it’s important to start with someone you know, like and trust.

But don’t stop there. Also, seek feedback from people you don’t like. Please strongly believe that you should seek feedback from outsiders who appear to have nothing in common. You do not need to agree to, assimilate, or internalize this feedback. It’s just more data.

Knowledge is powerful and you can choose what you accept to be true. Be aware of recurring themes. The person with the lowest confidence may provide the data they need most. Diversity of thought helps to create a more effective team. When creating strategic communication, it is best to engage in discussions from all perspectives.

The best way to seek feedback is to seek suggestions and advice rather than constructive criticism. People are much more likely to give you honest feedback when assembled in a less conflicting way. Colleagues want to maintain a relationship with you and make sure people love to give advice.

Hire a leadership coach. You knew it was coming. Executive coaches have been a secret weapon for decades, with many up-and-coming white male emerging leaders at the top and sitting at the front of the table. Even with privileges, they had to compete to reach their goals, and they were able to do so because they had support. It is an investment in oneself that earns dividends just because every human has a blind spot and an inner block. In addition, their salt-worthy coaches approach you as a perfect person with nothing to fix. Historically, it’s valuable to the blacks in this world.

BIPOC leaders no longer need to be pulled by the bootstrap to get up and succeed. You know your worth and deserve all the resources available to secure a seat at the top of the table.

–Jessica Lightbourne PCC is a co-founder of the International Coaching & Leadership Institute. [ICLI]Specializes in coaching BIPOC leaders to achieve exponential career advancement. question? Email her at jessica@iclitraining.com.

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