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Like It Or Not: Five Essential Actions for Leading LGBTQIA2S+ Team Members

Updated: Jun 7, 2023




So, you do not like Pride Month. Or, perhaps, you struggle with celebrating "pride" at all. Well, like it or not, one thing that Pride Month reminds us of are the many challenges in leading diversified teams. When God calls us into leadership, He does not limit our responsibility to only those individuals we agree with or whose lifestyles align with our beliefs. As leaders, we are called to Love, Educate, Affirm, and Deliver every team member, regardless of their elements of diversity. That alone is a reason why being an effective leader is challenging. We joyously and intentionally strive to build our lives around our preferences, comforts, values, and beliefs. Unfortunately, executives (well, team members too) rarely have that same privilege at work, even if you are the CEO. As such, we must learn to navigate this leadership challenge with grace.


Pride Month also serves as an opportunity to reflect on all of our prejudices and biases, which can hinder our ability to be effective leaders and cultivate an inclusive work environment if we do not learn to management them well. Instead, we must choose to build a bridge across our individual worlds, values, and beliefs that allows leaders and followers to come together to collaborate and achieve remarkable results. Building this bridge does not require compromising our values or fully accepting behaviors we may find disagreeable. Rather, it calls for anchoring ourselves in love, respect, humility, and empathy on both sides. In this blog post, we will explore five essential actions that leaders can take to promote safety, support, and spiritual growth for their LGBTQIA2S+ team members.


Should leaders actively educate themselves about LGBTQIA2S+ issues to better understand the challenges and experiences faced by their team members?

  • Yes

  • No

  • Not Sure


The Five Essential Actions


Spiritual and inclusive leadership calls for these five essential actions rooted in love, respect, and spiritual guidance.

  1. Love and Respect Each Individual's Dignity: As leaders, it is our responsibility to recognize and honor the inherent dignity of every team member as a spiritual being. Embrace a compassionate approach that respects their humanity, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. By demonstrating genuine love and respect, we create an environment where each person feels valued and loved for simply existing.

  2. Educate Yourself and Your Team: To better understand and support the struggles faced by the LGBTQIA2S+ community, it is crucial for leaders to educate themselves and their teams. Invest time in learning about the unique challenges and experiences these individuals may encounter. Engage in workshops, seminars, or online resources that provide insights into LGBTQIA2S+ issues. This knowledge equips us to foster empathy, understanding, and compassion in our interactions.

  3. Ensure a Safe Workplace Environment: As leaders, it is our duty to create a safe and inclusive workplace environment, free from hate speech and other threatening behaviors. Establish a zero-tolerance policy for any form of harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Encourage open communication and provide resources for reporting any incidents. By actively promoting a safe space, we demonstrate our commitment to the well-being and dignity of our LGBTQIA2S+ team members.

  4. Connect Team Members with Support Groups and Community Resources: Recognize that your organization may not provide all the necessary support resources for LGBTQIA2S+ team members. As a leader, it is essential to connect them with external support groups, mental health, and other community resources as needed. This demonstrates your commitment to their holistic well-being and provides access to networks that can offer additional guidance and understanding.

  5. Pray for Safety, Identity, and Guidance: Incorporating spirituality into inclusive leadership involves praying for the safety, self-love, and spiritual growth of LGBTQIA2S+ team members. Pray for their protection from harm and prejudice, both within and outside the workplace. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance in providing leadership that reflects Christ's love, inspiration, and protection for them. Lastly, pray for personal discernment and wisdom to navigate the complexities of supporting and affirming LGBTQIA2S+ individuals within your role as a leader.


By embracing the dignity of each individual, educating ourselves and our teams, fostering a safe environment, connecting LGBTQIA2S+ team members with support networks, and incorporating prayer into our leadership, we create a foundation for authentic and holistic support. Let us use Pride Month as a reminder to continually strive for spiritual leadership that honors the humanity, well-being, and spiritual growth of all individuals, including those from the LGBTQIA2S+ community.


 

Here is a key explaining the meaning of the different letters and symbols in the LGBTQIA2S+ acronym:


L: Lesbian - Refers to women who are attracted romantically, emotionally, or sexually to other women.

G: Gay - Refers to individuals, regardless of gender, who are attracted romantically, emotionally, or sexually to individuals of the same gender.

B: Bisexual - Describes individuals who are attracted romantically, emotionally, or sexually to both men and women.

T: Transgender - Refers to individuals whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.

Q: Queer - An umbrella term that can be used to describe diverse sexual orientations and gender identities that do not conform to societal norms.

I: Intersex - Refers to individuals who possess biological sex characteristics (such as chromosomes, hormones, or reproductive anatomy) that are not exclusively male or female.

A: Asexual - Describes individuals who do not experience sexual attraction to others or have a lack of interest in sexual relationships.

2S: Two-Spirit - An Indigenous term used to describe individuals who embody both masculine and feminine qualities and possess a spiritual and cultural significance within certain Indigenous cultures.

+: Represents the inclusion of other identities and orientations that may not be explicitly mentioned but are part of the diverse LGBTQIA2S+ community.


Please note that this key is not exhaustive and the experiences and identities within the LGBTQIA2S+ community are diverse and varied.

 

Dr. Wanita Mercer, Ph.D. is the founder and CEO of Lead My Heart, an executive coaching and consulting company specializing in equipping executives and executive teams to live and lead with purpose, passion, and power. She has a Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in organizational leadership, and she is certified in life coaching, executive coaching, change management, project management, executive management, and corporate crisis management. She has over 15 years of experience as an international educator, motivational speaker, author, and civic leader. She lives in San Antonio, Texas.

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