LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLES

Leading Beyond the Post takes an approach to leadership development and training that is both timeless and timely.

Founder Dr. Robin Martin builds on her successes in boardrooms, classrooms and athletic fields as she adds her distinctive perspective to the ethical leadership principles of Ubuntu, a traditional South African philosophy.

 

They include:

  • Modeling the way. Leaders set examples for behaviors, morals and ethics by leading with honesty, sincerity, compassion, empathy, dignity and respect for themselves and others
  • Shared vision. Leaders motivate others to support ideas and outcomes that advance the social, economic and professional advancement of the greater group.
  • Change and transformation. Leaders identify opportunities for institutional change through the people engaged within it.
  • Empowerment. Leaders recognized the interdependency of independent and organizational success as they develop a deeper understand of teamwork.
  • Servant leadership. Leaders develop clear visions of their role as they recognize that the needs of the collective community are greater than the needs of individuals.
  • Continuous integrated development. Leaders understand the importance of developing other leaders who can move people and organizations toward economic, social and personal successes.

 

Check back regularly and connect with Dr. Martin on LinkedIn for regular posts connecting these principles to the realities of 21st century management and leadership across industries.

Ubuntu Principle #1

November 05, 2018
Category: Leadership Principles

When we see ourselves; we see others.  Our sameness or collective interconnection is what unites us and demands justice for all. For we have spent too much misguided energy and rhetoric on the idea of individual merit and earned accolades, that we’ve forgotten our interdependence upon others—all others. This is what it means to Lead Beyond your Post and Navigate Courage. #ubuntuprinciple

 

Follow Dr. Martin on Instragram @ dr.robin_martin or visit leadingbeyondthepost.com 

Tags: Ubuntu

The Power of the word AND

November 03, 2018
Category: Leadership Principles

As more lives are destroyed and the nation teeters on the brink of civil unrest —desperately clutching onto the either/or, for/against, Republican/Democrat binary that the president of the United States and others have cleverly used to create more division, I am reminded of the power of the word AND.


The word AND removes the either/or binary and helps us to examine the complex nature of humanity by uncovering multiple truths and unlimited possibilities of sense-making. I find this particularly important in the world of deception, lies and gaslighting, for our collective journey is too complex to be examined through an either/or paradigm. If it were that easy, we would have solved the problems of the world.


I contend that the sooner we embrace our individual and collective AND, the quicker we can embrace the vast contradictions and complexities in the world —AND reimagine and work toward a better one. That's what it means to Lead Beyond Your Post and Navigate Courage.


Dr. Martin is CEO/Founder of Leading Beyond the Post, Inc. a full-scale leadership development, training, and executive coaching company. Follow her on Instagram @dr.robin_martin or visit Leadingbeyondthepost.com


The Art of Questions

August 30, 2018
Category: Leadership Principles

You know why the hard questions must be asked. It is not altruism, it is self-preservation—survival.

—Audre Lorde, Oberlin College Commencement Address, 1989

 

In my neighborhood, children were strongly discouraged from asking questions or questioning adults. Statements such as “Because I said so,” “Who are you talking back to?” and “Sit down and shut up before I give you something to cry about” were the pervasive parenting strategies.

 

But my mother was different. She encouraged us to have a voice, ask questions, speak out and self-advocate. In fact, she believed in the art of questions and questioning, sometimes ad nauseam. Whenever my siblings or I were suspected of misbehaving, we endured hourslong lectures—or as we called them “trials”—that required an opening statement of explanation, a logical defense for our behavior and a counterargument for why she shouldn’t cause bodily harm to us.

 

So, by age 11, I was a masterful diplomat and activist. I could articulate what I wanted, defend my position and offer win/win solutions.

 

After years of practice, this gift of questioning has become second nature. I’m generally known as the disruptive person in the back of the room asking difficult questions no one wants to ask, or answer. Like my mother, I enjoy the hunt for answers and the thrill of discovery. At times my questioning skills are celebrated; other times, dangerous. I can still see my siblings slowly backing out of the room after I asked a tough question, abandoning me to face the penalty of offending ‘judge’ Gladys alone.

 

Unfortunately, my childhood encounters would not be the last time my love for inquiry and critical questioning left me feeling isolated and alone. At the peak of my professional career, I quickly identified friends and colleagues who also slowly backed out of the room or conversations to evade the path of conflict out of fear. As if I was hiding a dead skunk in my blouse after a tough question, colleagues and friends expediently avoided my presence. At least, until they needed my help.   Over time, I learned to accept the penalty and consequences of my gift of questioning and enjoy eating lunch alone. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy lunch in solitude every once in a while.

 

Here are a few other lessons I’ve learned:

  1.  Deep inquiry, or the art of questioning, is not simply a function of getting the “right” answer: It is the conduit that sparks innovation that transforms people, places and entire organizations. The need to be right is a byproduct of ego and power. The need for deep inquiry is about social change.
  2. Always ask more questions. There is always a backstory, and no single person is sufficiently equipped to comprehend the absolute truth.
  3. Only through the art of questioning, do we enlarge our capacity for discovery. For in asking a great probing question, we should never assume the person in authority is always capable of making the right decision or that great decisions are made in a vacuum.

 

The “trials” in the court of Ms. Gladys helped to cultivate my love for deep inquiry and appreciate diverse discourse.  They also taught me how to stand alone when the going got tough. For as Audre Lorde suggests in the opening quote—hard questions are not about altruism, they are about self-preservation—survival. #Navigate Courage

 

Finding Place

July 25, 2018
Category: Leadership Principles

Finding Place

 

In Lee Daniels’ movie “The Butler,” Annabeth tells Cecil Gaines, played by Forest Whitaker, “When you’re serving, I don’t even want to hear you breathe. The room should feel empty when you’re in it.”

 

Reflecting on my career in athletics and academia, I recall distinct moments in which I heard this subtle, sometimes not so subtle, message to stay in my place or pretend I wasn’t present in the room. These moments taught me several valuable lessons.

 

First, knowing one’s place and staying in one’s place are two different things. Knowing your place is about understanding the social, political and individual contributions you bring to your position of power. Staying in your place is an act of oppression. Whether self-imposed or externally enforced, the “stay in your place” mentality is designed to ensure current power structures remain intact. It is an act of personal, mental and spiritual sabotage.

 

Second, many of us choose to “stay in our place” or not speak up due to fear. We fear losing a job, a friend, or financial or political influence. When people ask me about being courageous or taking an opposing stance on a topic, I remind them that both, our actions and inactions have consequences. Consequences are inescapable — silence is, in itself, a choice. And let’s face it, our collective silence has, and will always, bear a bigger price.

 

So, I encourage you to journey on, no longer bound by the illusion of place. Find your place of service and fill the room.  It should never feel empty.  Finally, remember to breathe; for the path is rarely straight and easy.

 

Jeff Foster, in “The Way of Rest” states:

 

“If it makes you weak, if it scares you, if it takes you to the bleeding edge of your identity, it may just be your true path.” (PLACE)

 

That’s what it means to Lead Beyond Your Post and Navigate Courage. 

Tags: Leadership

Thought of the Day--Choice

July 18, 2018
Category: Leadership Principles
Thought of the Day

Navigating Courage--Part 2

July 08, 2018
Category: Leadership Principles
 

Courage is not simply an act of protest against injustice; sometimes it’s the belief that the more dangerous path is the only one that produces freedom and life. Real courage requires a level of Rage. Only in times of indignation, or when we are outraged about a particular injustice or action, do we reduce our reliance on the cost-benefit analysis of our own safety or survival.

 

Walter Mosley states:

 

“Many and most moments go by with us hardly aware of their passage. But love and hate and fear cause time to snag you, to drag you down like a spider’s web holding fast to a doomed fly’s wings.”

 

Well America, hate and fear is snagging us and dragging us down into the web of racism and seem to be holding us fast — like the doomed fly’s wing.  And for many of us, we’re sensing the weight and consequences of both our actions and inactions. We are beginning to ask—What is my role?

 

As a leadership expert, I believe one way to escape this perilous web of destruction is to transform our Rage or Outrage into something much deeper—CouRage. 

 

Courage requires personal sacrifice, a deep love for humanity, and more importantly, the understanding that we are all interconnected.  It requires each of us, individually and collectively to be better and demand better. For, we are the change we desperately seek. Be CouRageous.

 

Dr. Martin, President/Founder of Leading Beyond the Post, Inc. 

 

To learn more or hire Dr. Martin visit: leadinbeyondthepost.com.

follow Dr. Martin on Instagram  or twitter  


 

Navigating Courage Masterclass Coming Soon!!!

Courage--Cries of the Heart

July 03, 2018
Category: Leadership Principles
                        

Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, or degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.

— Frederick Douglass, 1886

 

In my neighborhood, children were strongly discouraged from asking questions or questioning adults. Statements such as “Because I said so,” “Who are you talking back to?” and “Sit down and shut up before I give you something to cry about” were the pervasive parenting strategies.

 

But my mother was different. She encouraged us to have a voice, ask questions, speak out and self-advocate. In fact, she believed in the art of questions and questioning, sometimes ad nauseam. Whenever my siblings or I was suspected of misbehaving, we endured hours-long lectures — or as we called them “trials” — that required an opening statement of explanation, a logical defense for our behavior and a counterargument for why she shouldn’t spank us.

 

So by age 11, I was a masterful diplomat and activist. I could articulate what I wanted, defend my position and offer win/win solutions. That was right around the time I entered middle school and discovered the unfortunate perils of privilege.

 

Becky was her name — a wealthy white girl who regularly bullied other students with impunity. Unfortunately for Becky, though I was taught never to pick a fight, I was also taught never to run from a bully. So, when in class one day Becky called me “darkie” and spat on my leg, I calmly got up from my desk and slapped her across the face with an open hand. Shock echoed across the room. I spent the next two hours in the principal’s office until my mother picked me up. I felt both embarrassed and liberated. I knew it was wrong to fight in school, and I was not proud of that moment. However, I felt liberated because I stood my ground. When the principal suggested I be suspended from school and Becky be moved to another class because she felt threatened, I decided to put him on “trial.”

 

With my mother by my side, I refused to accept the lopsided punishment, especially given my stellar record of compliance and Becky’s history of lawless actions. I asked the principal to justify his initial decision, and I questioned whether Becky's race and socioeconomic status helped shape his decision to dispense unequal punishment. As my mother tells the story, I “sassed” the principal until Becky and I received the same punishment. We both served a two-day suspension, and Becky stayed clear of my path for the remainder of the school year.

 

I tell this story because, over time, it has shaped the way I view leadership and leading in the following ways:   

 

I learned that violence is never the solution to a conflict — neither is apathy. I’m certain it would have been easier to accept the punishment and move on. However, every once in a while, we have a sense of the weight and consequences of both our actions and inactions. It is in those moments that we take a courageous stance.

 

I learned that courage is not simply an act of protest against injustice; sometimes it’s the belief that the more dangerous path is the only one that produces freedom and life. Real courage requires a level of Rage. Only in times of indignation, or when we are outraged about a particular injustice or action, do we reduce our reliance on the cost-benefit analysis of our own safety or survival. You see, my anger over the incident with Becky and the principal’s response, or lack thereof, had produced both OutRage and CouRage. I wasn’t just standing up for me. I was also standing up for other students.

 

So, the next time someone calls me an Angry Black Woman, I’ll offer the following response:

 

My anger and rage come from a place of sacrifice and humility. The blood of my ancestors, the murder of unarmed men and women and the sight of caged children warrant both rage and courageous action. And to be totally transparent, as an African-American woman, I’ve been talked to, talked over, and told to shut up and sit down far too long for rage to be absent.

 

So starting today, no longer will I be consumed by or allow the fear of being called an “Angry Black Woman” stifle my continued fight for freedom, for social justice or for my community. For my rage has produced, and will always produce, something much greater — Courage. My courage and rage are the manifestations of my heart crying out for humanity.

 

Walter Mosley states:

 

“Many and most moments go by with us hardly aware of their passage. But love and hate and fear cause time to snag you, to drag you down like a spider’s web holding fast to a doomed fly’s wings.”

 

Well America, hate and fear are snagging us and dragging us down into the web of racism and seem to be holding us fast — like the doomed fly’s wing. This, my friends, should make us, all of us, cry. Its time to demand better, be better and more importantly, Navigate CouRage in ways we never imagined. Its time to Lead Beyond The Post!!


Navigating Courage: In our Mother's Garden

June 24, 2018
Category: Leadership Principles

“And when we go in search of our mothers’ gardens, it’s not really to learn who trampled on them or how or even why—we usually know that already. Rather, it’s to learn what our mothers planted there, what they thought as they sowed and how they survived the blighting of so many fruits.”

Sherley Anne Williams (1978)

 

Much of who we are is based upon a set of collective experiences that confirm or challenge our collective thoughts and actions. I am no different. I was raised on welfare by a single mother who always seemed destined for greatness, though she could never fully grasp it in our small town. In 1961, she graduated salutatorian for her high school class, but never attended her graduation. Unfortunately for my mother, special occasions or accomplishments were rarely celebrated, especially in her abusive household. 

 

On May 20, 2018, almost 57 years later at her grandson’s high school graduation, I watched my mother give 400 students something she never received—a celebration. For nearly two hours, she clapped, shouted and raised her Arsenio Hall fist for every single student who walked across the stage. Despite exhaustion, tired hands from clapping and a little body odor coming from the sweat, she enthusiastically celebrated every student. The pride and joy on her face were simply priceless. 

 

I share this story for three reasons: First to demonstrate just how lucky I am to call Gladys P. Martin my mother and to ask everyone reading this to help me celebrate her.

 

Secondly, as I reflect on the opening quote, “We go in search….to learn what our mothers planted, what they sowed and how they survived,“ I learned that my mother has the capacity to give, plant and sow seeds of joy, love and jubilee even though her fruit had been blighted some 57 years ago by my abusive grandfather. I realized that her survival was wrapped in the love and celebration of her grandson, as well as the other 400 students that day. In that moment, I had unexpectedly witnessed my mother’s garden. And it was beautiful.

 

Finally, I conclude with a simple question—what if we all developed the capacity to celebrate and acknowledge each other, even in the midst of our personal scarring? What if we, or our leaders, developed the capacity to give more than what is received, or more importantly, labored to plant and sow seeds for those they do not know. That is the essence of Gladys P. Martin. And that’s what it means to Navigate Courage and Lead Beyond the Post. 


Navigating Courage: Eyes Wide Open Principle

June 19, 2018
Category: Leadership Principles
 

As a young girl, I worshiped my brilliant, funny and charismatic brother, Robert Martin. He had many talents, but one in particular stood out—his ability to sleep with his eyes open. Every Sunday as church services got underway, he would slowly drift off to sleep with his eyes wide open, evading both the sermon and the watchful eye of my mother. Years passed until one Sunday, as his slumber gave way to a snore, my mother realized he could sleep with his eyes open.

 

Over the years, I’ve grown to see Robert’s unnerving capacity as a critical insight into my own struggle to accept my limited ability to avoid seeing injustice, pretense or matters that impact others. As an African-American woman, I often ask myself: Is it really possible to sleep with your eyes open? Is it really possible not to see Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin or Yvette Smith? Is it really possible not to see the Native American people of Standing Rock, immigrant children taken from their families or rising poverty in the richest country?

 

Unlike my brother, I never mastered the eyes-wide-open sleeping trick. In fact, I have the opposite reaction in difficult situations—my eyes are always open. Whether sitting in meetings, talking with colleagues and friends or simply watching the news, oftentimes I vividly see the conflict, the dangerous question, or the possible solution before others. I have always been blessed or cursed with the uncanny ability to cut right through the bullsh*t and zero in, to find the deeper meaning or find the solution. It’s simply the way my brain is wired. Both my eyes and my spirit have an insatiable appetite for pondering what is being presented and what is hidden.

 

I can now, at the age of 47, call this skill a gift. Unfortunately for me, I spent years walking into meetings determined not to see, speak out or ask the difficult questions. I’ve spent countless hours preparing and rehearsing dispassionate responses, developing strategies to avoid difficult discussions and using nondirective language to avoid the watchful eye of people in power. I’ve even practiced silence. Despite my efforts, I have never fully been able to circumvent my eyes-always-open gift, nor has this gift ever afforded me much rest.

 

In “Seven Leadership Lessons for Minorities and Everyone Else,” Umair Haque sums up this reality beautifully and simply: “Those of us who are born different are the truly privileged ones. For it is our calling to live truly exceptional lives. While we may damn the weight of the burden, let us also give thanks for the gift.”


The first time I read this quote, I literally jumped out of my seat. The statement gave me permission to damn the weight of the burden and still hold gratitude in my heart. What a powerful weapon. So now when I sit in meetings with my eyes wide open and feeling like a 500–pound elephant is sitting on my chest; I channel my inner Esther and ask—what if I have come for such a time as this?  This simple question challenges me to look beyond the need for safety or ease. It demands I take action.  I simply look at the situation for what it is, curse, and give thanks at the exact same moment. This is what it means to Navigate CouRage and Lead Beyond Your Post.


Coming Soon!!!!!  Navigating CouRage Masterclass

 

Navigating Courage: The Esther Principle

June 08, 2018
Category: Leadership Principles

The biblical story of Esther is a powerful metaphor for my life and professional career. It’s one of few stories in the Bible I vividly remember from my childhood, and one that I apply in my daily life.

 The story of Esther is about a beautiful Jewish woman who married the king of Persia. Unaware of Esther’s Jewish heritage, the king issued a command to kill all the Jews in the land, including the women and children. 

Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, learned of the plan and immediately went to Esther and petitioned that she intercede on behalf of the Jewish people and his family. Stricken with fear, Esther immediately understood both the personal and collective ramifications of Mordecai’s request. She knew that she could be killed for making the request or disclosing her Jewish heritage. Nevertheless, Mordecai continued pleading: “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows, but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 NIV).


As I reflect back, my entire career path has been filled with “Esther” moments — times when I found myself thrust into “royal” positions as the first African-American female director of athletics or the only black executive on the leadership team. And just like Queen Esther, I have been paralyzed with fear, distress, anxiety and even doubt about whether I was deserving of my lofty positions. What I know for sure is that many of us, at some point in our careers or life, have questioned our ideas, intellect or our basic way of knowing. It’s what makes us human.


However, it is in these times that I am reminded of the enormous gift and burden of my “unseemly” heritage. It is in these moments of doubt or questioning that I plead to my inner self and ask, “What if I have come to this royal position for such a time as this?” This singular principle has not only guided my actions, but over time, transformed the way I view my individual privilege, power and responsibility, shifting my individualist paradigm to a much grander idea of what it means to lead in community. You see, Mordecai’s petition required Esther to look outside herself and act on behalf of others. It is this kind of community leadership perspective that I believe is essential today.

 

As a leadership consultant, I’ve come to believe that the field of leadership has spent too much time focusing on leadership attributes, theories, skills development and power dynamics in such a way that we've managed to make swaths of highly functioning, emotionally astute and sometimes introverted individuals feel like they shouldn’t have a place at the table. We’ve managed to make people believe that leadership and leading is reserved for a small few. This perspective of leadership is both disingenuous and short-sighted to say the least. The truth is, we all possess unique gifts, talents, and skills. In essence, We Are Esther. We play a role —individually and collectively — in transforming this royal place we call Earth. 


So, take a deep breath, inhale life and begin the magical journey of finding ways to offer your God-given talents to this complex world. For just like Esther, we all wrestle with fear. We can choose to close our eyes and wait for a simpler solution, or we can change perspective and ponder ‘for whom, for what or why have I come to this royal position in such a time as this?’ The answer to these questions will always inspire you to Lead Beyond Your Post.

Tags: Navigating Courage: The Esther Principle

Navigating Courage-Part 2

May 04, 2018
Category: Leadership Principles

Tags: Leadership Leading Navigating Courage

Daily Opportunities for Growth

April 14, 2018
Category: Leadership Principles

Tags: Thought of the Day

Thought of the Day--Unqualified

April 03, 2018
Category: Leadership Principles

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