At Carpenter Smith Consulting, we’ve come to define leadership as the willingness to influence others and be influenced by others, regardless of your role or title. It’s a way of being in the world that can change lives and elevate justice.

We’ll be coming back to this definition over the next few weeks and months to encourage you to step in and influence, and to listen to one another’s experiences deeply enough that you’re, in fact, influenced and changed by the interaction.

The death of George Floyd has again confronted us all with the deep inequalities throughout our nation. As we face these truths there is sadness, grief, and anger over the culture and systems that have held these inequalities in place.

During times like these we’re reminded of a powerful quote from Elie Wiesel:

What hurts most is not the cruelty of the oppressor but the silence of the bystander.

We would make the case that all of us who are not directly affected by racism and bigotry are bystanders—and the world needs our leadership now.

We know that many Americans feel the pain of the nation and don’t want to be the silent bystander but don’t know what they can do to contribute to change. Many worry about saying something or doing something that is insensitive or offensive. Many care deeply, then freeze.

Influencing your world and stepping in with leadership can be difficult,
yet your leadership is needed.

There is no right way to do this. There is your way. As you grapple with your way, you need to expect that as others are figuring out how to take action, you may get challenged, you may be unintentionally insensitive, but your commitment to influencing the world in ways that make it better for all requires you take the risk, apologize for missteps, and continue to lead.

There are many ways that you can challenge and speak out against injustice. There are many ways to influence your world. To get you started we’re including a link to an article that shares steps you can take—big and small—entitled, 75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice. Pick one today and take action.

Raise your voice and influence your world. Don’t stand silent.

In our next post, we’re going to talk about some keys to being influenced by others during this important time in our nation’s history.

Remember, leadership is a way of being in the world. When you influence, you don’t stand off to the side with arms crossed waiting for someone else to step forward; and when you’re influenced by others, you remain open to learning and hearing and being truly changed by the experiences, hope, and pain of others.

We’re here for you.