Did you know you are addicted to insight?

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Ajay Gupta radiates goodness by promoting fairness consistently throughout his personal and professional life.

One of the most powerful articles I’ve read lately is The Neuroscience of Leadership, by David Rock and Jeffrey Schwartz. It is a classic because they articulate why we are addicted to following certain leaders: those who consistently produce ‘insight’ in our lives. Adults are addicted to their own insight! But how do you produce your own insight?

One way is to get out of your comfort zone. Here’s an example: last week Thursday night and Friday morning, we hosted Good Leadership events that featured pointed commentary by people who aren’t white Minnesota nice.

If I told you one of today’s most successful partners at Ernst & Young had to move to another city to preserve any chance of making Partner, would that seem fair to you? That produced powerful insight for me.  This particular Partner was born in India, raised in Africa and went to school at Cambridge in England…and because he didn’t fit the typical ‘white male’ model of advancement, he had no choice but to relocate to Minneapolis to advance his career. That’s part of the inspiring story of my friend Ajay Gupta.

If I told you a brilliant PhD once served as the Agricultural Minister for his native country, but had to wash dishes at Godfathers Pizza to make a living here in America, would that seem fair to you? That produced powerful insight for me. This particular PhD was born in Afghanistan…his integration into the US wasn’t easy.  That’s part of the inspiring story of my friend Dr. Ghafar Lakanwal.

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The infectious smile of Dr. Ghafar radiates goodness in any room. He will be a panelist at the Good Leadership Conference.

Dr. Ghafar went on to become the founder of the Multicultural Development Center in Minneapolis and win the Facing Race Ambassador award presented by the St. Paul Foundation. Ajay Gupta went on to win the highest leadership award offered by Ernst & Young for his commitment and effectiveness at developing and championing the careers of women within the firm. These two leaders radiate goodness by rewarding excellence, living generously, promoting fairness, and being consistently positive in their personal and professional lives.  Ah ha! There’s the insight again.

What’s my story?  The first day I arrived at Gustavus Adolphus College in 1981, I was surprised by meeting my two freshmen roommates: Turhan Guneratani and David Burns…African American football players from South Chicago.  We didn’t have email or Facebook back then. I didn’t have a clue they were black. Within the confines of that tiny 10′ x 16′ dorm room I was was the odd man out. They spoke a language I barely understood.  I was amazed by how loud they laughed, how hard they wrestled around that tiny dorm room and how differently they talked about girls.  Around campus I was identified as “the kid who lived with those two black guys.” Back then, it didn’t feel fair.

Today, I see the world differently. Here’s my insight:

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My sister Heidi’s beautiful, multiracial family

My brother-in-law is African American/Native American and my two nephews are beautifully multiracial. The elementary school across the street from my home in prestigious West Bloomington, now has a wonderfully diverse population where 18 different languages are spoken in their collective homes.  Parent night looks like the United Nations.

So what do I do with this insight?  I’m a middle-aged, suburban white guy, but I’ve created a platform where we can all talk about what it means to lead effectively in our increasingly multicultural environment.  The face of our future customers, employees, neighbors — maybe even family members — are  changing right in front of our eyes.  The Good Leadership Conference is my platform to share my thoughts about how we can all learn to do a better job of  Leading Together, to radiate goodness and promote fairness.

Good leaders make a habit of embracing the evolution of society — constantly considering different perspectives.  And they understand promoting fairness is what our customers, employees, friends and families expect.

What are you doing October 26 this year?  Will you join me at the Good Leadership Conference?[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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