Color Blind - Leadership SHIFT Tip

Color blind dichromats’ perspective of red and green is confusing. Objects of these colors look the same. It presents a challenge when seeking a Granny Smith instead of a McIntosh apple and a greater concern when approaching a traffic light.

As the color blind deal with their optic challenges, those in other circles, especially business, tout color blindness as an attribute, as in, “I don’t see someone’s skin color. I see everyone the same.”

It’s the meritocratic story told to suggest that everyone has the same fair shot. But if that is the case, why do we struggle with creating diverse conference rooms and mentor-mentee circles?

Several years ago I had a compelling conversation with a colleague about leadership styles. She told me that she felt pressured to behave in a certain way because of her race and gender. She didn’t feel comfortable bringing her whole self to work.

Instead of being color blind, maybe we need to seek more color awareness and thoughtfulness to break the “fourth wall.” Because building cultures worth building requires seeing the full person.

The goal isn’t to see everyone as the same, but rather to explore and celebrate our differences. This gives us an opportunity to be better together and it’s possible with empathy and asking questions for which we don’t know the answer.

You can start with, “To fully understand you as a person, what does someone need to know?”

Have fun storming the castle.

michael obrien