What It’s Like to Be a Black Leader

UPDATED: February 18, 2021
PUBLISHED: February 18, 2021

I realize that everything I’m about to say, some may agree with, some may disagree with. And I think that’s the beauty of our world, is difference, right? To have conversations, to entertain an idea without accepting it. I also know that I have one goal, which is love. I want to give some love, I want to give some perspectives, and hopefully they may benefit you, and if they don’t, have a discussion, right?

I know that inevitably, someone’s going to get bothered by it and that is part of the world we live in. I can’t say anything, and nobody can say anything, with everybody agreeing. And that’s just part of the process. But here’s what I want talk about: I want to talk about what it’s like to be a Black leader.

I’m a person that’s under a kind of microscope. In the world of what I do, I am not the norm, right? A lot of people don’t typically see my face and think business coach or a speaker or a trainer or a corporate consultant or whatever it might be. Not that they don’t see that, but there’s not as many of my faces, right? And I realize this. And because of that, I take a great deal of weight with the responsibility I’m given to lead in a certain way. And I think it’s not just a matter of whether I’m Black or not, it’s leadership in a way of humanity.

Whether you’re white or Black or Asian or Spanish, doesn’t matter what it is, you have the same responsibility. And so the things that I’ve learned about my ethnicity and how it shows up, I believe can be lessons that you can actually apply.

Now, the first part of it is, I realize that at the end of the day, how we live our lives and what we do, like some of the beauty of us in society, it’s the difference. What is different is great, right? That’s why a painting looks so great with different colors, right? The idea is that in the world we live in now, if you want to be a great leader, you have to realize that the leadership aspect is embracing the differences of your team, embracing your difference and finding what makes you unique.

In my world, I know that I am different and I lean into this in a positive way, right? I realize that if I’m going to be accepted, just like you may be accepted in some capacity, you have to seek that and find ways to extract what is unique and what’s different about you, and also, if you’re being led by a leader, embracing the same aspects.

Now, when I look at our society nowadays, we’re in a hot topic of racial inequality or racial injustice or seeking unity, and that’s always a deeper, interesting discussion for me because I found that, in my perspective, that I’m not sure if I’m always looking for the idea of equality. Sounds odd, yes. I believe all men are created equal, 1,000%, and women. But the idea also I’ve noticed is that I don’t think everybody is equal in heart, in perspective, in compassion, in what’s just and being honest, like there’s not an equal aspect there. However, I do believe we should all seek unity.

I believe unity is unifying around the common differences for a common goal. I believe we can unify to what a different world should look like, what a different space should look like. It creates something special, it creates something unique. And I think that at the end of the day, if we look at what we’re trying to create for our world, I believe it’s we’re trying to find unity. To unite around a common idea and a common goal, accepting and embracing our differences, to create something special.

Now, yes, there are situations where I’m not always the head of the pack, simply because of how I look. I get that, right? And for me, I’ve always thought about it like this. I played in the NFL and I’ve noticed that for me, the goal is wrapped in a little different perspective. I knew that when I played the game, if I could just get past the idea of like, what was it to get me on and off the field, I could prosper. And what that was was I got to be so good that they can’t take me off the field, right?

If you’re a Black leader or you’re in a position where this is an issue for you, or any situation, the idea is not to complain or not to find a disheartening perspective based on your situation you’re in, but it’s find a way to be so good, no one can keep you off the field, that they put you in play because you’re just that good. And if you can find a way to embrace that, to find that uniqueness and press past, you overcome more barriers than you even imagine. You’ll find new spaces, new areas to venture into no matter what ethnicity you are. And in doing so, you find a way to have that vision, have that dream for yourself and then paint the picture so others can see what you’re creating. Like people should look at you and aspire to what you are doing. They should look at you and have joy and have confidence in what you’ve created. And this unifies people to a common direction.

I believe then we can embrace our differences, embrace society in a different space. I think the world we’re going to build into, it takes a little bit of a different kind of effort, an action we’ve been doing. What I look at it is, if we’re in two separate houses, we wanna have an amazing house, this united America, united world, whatever it is, I think it comes from saying, look, I’m going to leave my house of what I’ve known, what’s been common. I’m going to leave this house over here. And these two different sides, whatever they may be, four, five, six different sides, we come together and we have to build a house together. We got to build the house together.

You can’t have one person complain that somebody else didn’t do something. And they’ve been working too long or they’ve had too much of it up. I get that. We come to the table and unify in our strengths to build this house together, and we build it so we have respect and have a belief that the other person belongs in this home. So we all have our own work to do, different work, but our own work to do. And I believe that if you can get in line, understand kind of what that perspective is, in line with my heart in that area, hopefully this benefits you.

Now, these are my thoughts, and again, I am not a person that is perfect in any way, nor do I have any anchoring in saying, “I have the answer,” but I have an answer. And I think part of it dials into being unified around a common goal. And what I think we all want is a safe, engaged, appreciative and unified world. Just know, if we’re gonna have that, if you’re going to have that at some point, you must actually work into that as well.

So I hope this makes sense. I hope it lands. I hope you have an amazing month. No matter what ethnicity you are, I love ya, and I hope that in this next few stages of our society, in our world, you’re part of the solution not part of the problem.

Anthony Trucks is a former NFL Athlete, American Ninja Warrior on NBC, international speaker, host of the Aww Shift podcast, and the founder of Identity Shift coaching. He uses cutting edge science and psychology to upgrade how you operate so you can elevate your life and business to reach your full potential. After being given away into foster care at 3 years old, being adopted into an all-white family at 14, losing his NFL career to injury and more, he learned how to shift at a very young age, and now his life mission is teaching others how to Make Shift Happen in their lives.