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Leadership vs. Leadersh*t: The Crucial Difference Between Intention and Action



My nose is telling me that spring is coming early this year. Darn allergies! Not only is an early spring apparent, but the distinction between leadership and “leadersh*t” has become increasingly apparent in the corporate world, particularly in the context of DEI initiatives. Many organizations claim to prioritize DEI, but their actions often fall short of their intentions. This disconnect is a prime example of the difference between leadership and “leadersh*t.”

 

Intention is the starting point, but more is needed. Leaders who express their commitment to DEI without taking concrete action are engaging in “leadersh*t.” They may speak about the importance of diversity and inclusion, but their words ring hollow if they fail to implement meaningful policies, allocate resources, or create actionable plans.

 

True leadership, on the other hand, is characterized by action. It involves setting clear goals, defining concrete strategies, and following through with implementation. Leaders who genuinely prioritize DEI take steps to create a shared vision among their team, ensuring that everyone understands the importance of these initiatives and their role in bringing them to life.


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One critical aspect of effective DEI leadership is providing concrete definitions and objectives. For instance, if a company’s strategic focus is “learning,” leaders must clarify what that means in practice. Who is encouraged to learn? What are they encouraged to learn? Why are they encouraged to learn? Without these specifics, “learning” becomes an abstract concept open to interpretation, leading to confusion and inaction.

 

Leaders must be specific and purposeful to transform intention into action. They should revise vague statements like “learning” into concrete objectives such as “Encouraging musical creativity and self-expression through composition-related activities.” This level of clarity ensures that everyone understands the goal and can work together to achieve it.

 

Furthermore, true leadership recognizes that DEI is not a new concept. It has been a crucial part of the American workforce since President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration. Leaders who choose to cancel their DEI initiatives or terminate their DEI teams are not only engaging in “leadersh*t” but also demonstrating a lack of understanding of these efforts' historical and ongoing importance.


Performative allyship and DEI theatre have no place in today’s corporate landscape. Leaders must be authentic in their commitment to creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces. This means taking action, setting measurable goals, and holding themselves and their organizations responsible and accountable for progress.

 

The difference between leadership and “leadersh*t” lies in the ability to turn intention into action. Leaders who prioritize DEI must provide concrete definitions, create shared visions, and take meaningful steps to bring about change. Only then can we move beyond performative allyship and create truly inclusive workplaces that benefit everyone.

 

So my question to you: Is your organization practicing true leadership or leadersh*t?

 

Until next time,

Kimberly






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