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Blog Post

EIO Leadership Coaching Program

February 7, 2024

In 2023,  I found myself in the valley of deep culture shifts with leaders and change  makers who were hoping for and wanting change, who recognized their responsibility to create healthy workplace cultures and ensure that everyone,  regardless of their identity belongs. Having been an Executive Director in  the nonprofit for many years, I knew this desire and was excited to be of  service. I conducted organizational culture audits, facilitated focus groups,  delivered trainings related to equity and power, coached leaders, and teams  in using their power more effectively and consciously, and co-developed  curriculum on equity for coaches. The heartbeat of my work was coming  together as I hoped. I was thrilled.   

But  then, I got knocked down. And then again. And one more time for good measure.    

It took my breath away. I could feel my own personal power leak. I have been asking myself ever since: What is happening? What am I missing? What is needed here?  Of course, there were a few leaders who simply wanted to check off a box and say they did the work of DEI, but that wasn’t the majority. These were good leaders with good intentions and big hearts who recognized they were having an impact they didn't intend.

Here are some of the patterns that emerged:

  • Leaders  and change-makers, especially in the non-profit, are exhausted. Recovering  from a pandemic – where they had to be resourceful and create new ways of doing the work on a daily basis – took its toll. Their gas tanks were empty.  Doing DEI work on an empty gas tank doesn’t work.
  • COVID-19  revealed and amplified the inequities in the workplace and historical  patterns of oppression and power imbalances are being challenged by staff.  Leaders are on the defensive, and it’s hard to do DEI work when you feel you  are at war. Creating psychological safety in the workplace becomes a  priority.
  • Leaders  and change makers don’t necessarily have the leadership skills and  competencies required for DEI work. I didn’t learn how to be an  equity-centred leader in my master’s degree.
  • Leaders  and change makers don’t realize when they start this equity-centred journey  what it will take of them. It requires deep inner work which means mindsets, behaviours, and practices need to shift. It means inner change.
  • Leaders  and change makers need trusted partners. This work is hard. They need  compassionate guides to hold space for all the messiness – the tender moments, the I don’t know what to do moments, and the I can’t do anything  right moments. They need companions to walk with them, and spaces where they  can be all of who they are in their vulnerability, and still be held  accountable. They need spaces to celebrate the small wins.  

As I  reflected on these patterns and discussed them with colleagues, I recognized  that what needs supporting is leaders’ readiness to be in the fire of change.  A colleague pointed out that my work is to disrupt and maybe the question is  “Who is ready for disruption?”  

This is how the Equity from the Inside Out Leadership Coaching Program came to be –  me opening my heart to a leader’s inner journey toward equity-centred leadership, recognizing that there is a need to prepare the leader’s inner soil for disruption. Registration is now open. If any of this resonates, read the full program description for more details.

I am pleased to share that 20% of  the revenues from this coaching program will be donated to two organizations  in London, Ontario. The Muslim Resource Centre for Social  Support and Integration promotes family safety and wellbeing within the  diverse Muslim communities in London and proceeds from these funds will  support Muslim girls and women’s leadership through public education and  community capacity-building projects. The Inclusive Community Events Program, created in celebration of the  remarkable contributions Dharshi Lacey made in the London community,  supports equity-denied groups with complimentary meeting and event space  at Innovation Works