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One of my favorite things to dig into with business leaders is the organization’s feedback loop. Specifically, what they are doing to ensure they have a pulse on their team members. Not just productivity, but buy-in, culture fit, emotional health, etc. Most immediately point to their performance reviews or one-on-one meetings. Everyone seems to love the 360-degree performance review these days. (For the record, if you’re an employee participating in a 360-degree performance review, be careful, most managers have fragile egos and can’t handle your constructive criticism. Your fears are legitimate.). Anonymous surveys are better, as long as there isn’t an undercover employee in IT telling the CEO who said what (I’ve seen this and I wish I was kidding).

Maybe your feedback loop is fairly robust and you provide ample opportunity for your team to share their perspectives. You feel pretty good about where things are going and you’ve put together a fairly solid team. There is quite a bit of (mostly great) information out there about how integral active listening is to strong leadership. It seems simple, but it’s true. Good leaders are usually good listeners, even if they weren’t born naturally bent to bend an ear (looks in the mirror). Jedi level though? The best leaders I have ever seen have trained themselves to listen for what their people aren’t saying.

It felt like we were finally coming out of a fog. With stay at home orders lifting, social distance restrictions easing up, and the market continuing to rebound, a few weeks ago it seemed as if we were on a path to a new normal. Till we weren’t.

On May 25th, four Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd, a 46 year old black man. He was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes. 17 minutes later he was unconscious. Shortly thereafter he was declared dead. The videos began to circulate and the protests started. The protests turned into riots and overnight our country was on fire. The pain of the unheard crying out for justice.

We have not made an official statement and I’m not sure that we will. For now, here are five questions pointed towards our beliefs, not our opinions, that I can answer with confidence on behalf of our organization: Do we believe that institutional racism is alive and rampant and needs to be taken apart piece by piece? Yes, we do. Do we believe that violence and racism are tragically woven into the fabric of our country? Yes, we do. Do we believe that the perpetrators of this injustice, and many others, should be held accountable for their actions to fullest extent the law allows? Yes, we do. Do we grieve alongside our brothers and sisters whose pain we cannot fully comprehend? Yes, we do. Do we believe things can and will get better? Yes, we do. These are things we believe, not things we think. I believe that distinction is important.