Class is in session – Thank you Katt Williams & Wanda Smith!

This week has been full of drama DRAMA that originated from an appearance by Comedian and Actor Katt Williams on the Atlanta radio station of V-103, during the Frank & Wanda Morning Show. You may be disappointed, but I am not here to re-dissect the now viral video of the “comedic banter” that started a week full of tumultuous events. All of social media has that covered! Thank goodness these events did not end up more tragic, as the window was indeed opened for this to escalate beyond control and outside of what, I would guess either party, did not wake up and plan for their day. There are lessons in everyday occurrences, and this one did not disappoint. I choose to share with you, in the midst of this chaos, a lesson of leadership and more specifically, women in leadership positions. I am not here to debate who was right or wrong in this scenario. I could, but I am not sure what benefit there would be or the purpose it would serve. Instead, I choose to focus on some fundamental principles of leadership that were lost in all of the chaos and drama.

One of my seminars/workshops is titled, “Fab 30: Leadership Lessons for Women of Any Age!” Within the workshop I identify 30 key principles of lessons regarding leadership (geared for an audience of women, but easily translatable to ANYONE in a leadership role). Two lessons jumped out at me and I would like to use this chaos to bring some leadership development into view. Making lemonade out of lemons! Take notes, class is in session.

Lesson #1: “You do not have to be the loudest to be right.”

When I initially developed this concept, it came from common sense, things I had observed, and things I now know that could have aided me in the start of my career. Women often find themselves in a precarious scenario. Do we speak louder? Ignore signs that we aren’t being heard in order to make our point accepted? Or do we act like a bull in a china shop…. content with the fact that, people at least “heard me”? Men in leadership roles do this effortlessly and seemingly do not get caught up in the processing of the questions I outlined above. For women, we have to approach conflict laden situations with much more introspection. Fair or unfair, it is a reality.

Good women leaders will be faced with these questions and more as they move up the “ladder” sort to speak. Smart leaders eventually learn that volume does not command power, control or a sense of “I am right”. Figuring out how to balance being heard, respected and taken seriously is an art, not a given. Wanda Smith, had many opportunities to say, “you know what, this guy is in a space I am not ready to be a part of” but she didn’t. Whether it was shock, pride, irritation, lack of preparation (that latter one is a lesson for another day 😊) the result was what we all know it to be by now. The lesson here, is sometimes it is A-OK to fall back and let someone else talk and have the last word. This particular situation would have not grown legs, had she made a choice to say, “You win, this is not my thing” and faded to a commercial break (another form of having the last word). Instead what millions are now dissecting and have view of, is the opposite. Sometimes women believe in order to show their power, she must be the loudest. That is, in my opinion, a faulty assumption. Leaders know that you can control an entire situation by saying nothing at all. *Repeat that last sentence 3 times*

Lesson #2: “Be accountable for you own actions and the subsequent consequences”

I do not personally know Wanda Smith (Her husband), Frank Ski, Katt Williams, or any other employee of the radio station. What I do know is this specific situation had many easy to identify opportunities to be stopped and a new direction explored. We all make mistakes. Everyone. Literally all of us. None of us will be immune to this as it is a fact of life. A leader will own their mistakes and accept the consequences of said choices. This is really important because it is often the hardest to do. Easy to say, quite different to operationalize and execute. While the premise is simple, leaders are often challenged with the “how”. Well in this case the how for me wasn’t that hard to decipher. That also seems true for the hundreds of comments I have now read on this topic/incident. Like most things, if it were easy we would all do it. Implementing this strategy is very difficult because it first requires an admission that you perhaps did something wrong. Whatever that something is, however small or big, and regardless of the impact….no one likes to be wrong. However, that’s how mastering this skill starts. It is OK (I promise you) to admit defeat, loss, or just plain and simple “I was wrong” when that is indeed the case. People respect that at the end of the day. It is certainly respected more than deflection, taking on an inappropriate victim role, or completely denying you are human and make mistakes. Pride is a beast to overcome, but once you figure out how to manage your beast…. your leadership development in this area will mature.

I hope the value of these lessons come through in this short blog entry. They are critical lessons that even someone as experienced as Wanda Smith saw, are much easier said than done. Mastering these 2 lessons separates the good from the great. Now go and be great.

*I have attached the video clip that inspired this blog reflection. Not the initial dramatic one (It’s everywhere you won’t have trouble finding it)! The clip is the aftermath interview that aired earlier this week. What other lessons do you see when you watch this? *

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