By Dr. Vangie Akridge
Licensed Educational Psychologist
The relationship between local African American community elders and the generation that is expected to eventually fill their seats is in a precarious situation. From my vantage point, it appears that it is time for some courageous conversation about leadership.
In an academic setting, the teacher is tasked with providing instruction that literally and symbolically transfers knowledge to and instills confidence in their students. After years of tutelage, dedicated study, personal growth and a plethora of tough lessons, the student graduates and is ceremonially acknowledged and released into the atmosphere to be all they can be.
In business, as executives prepare for their next career advancement or to change up their corporate agendas, they often begin a search for their successor. Once their replacement has been identified, most executives opt to take part in the training of the individual(s) that will take their position to ensure that all the gains made on their watch were not lost. Once the training concludes, the previous lead is accessible to successor for mentoring as the newly appointed lead works diligently to make the position their own. Both the previous executive lead and the successor have one common goal … for the next financial quarter to supersede any and all previous accomplishments.
Contrarily, when it comes to passing the mantle of community leadership, it does not appear that the aforementioned paradigms are in play. The 30-40 something’s perspective: “You have prepared me and I am ready with your blessing and support to lead. The elders’ (perceived) perspective: I acknowledge your efforts … but … I am still in charge. The end result: The 30-40 somethings become discouraged and disengaged and either take their talents to other communities or build their own entities in the same community, ultimately, dividing the efforts, manpower and resources. The energy that is exerted on this division distracts from the time that should be concentrated on our youth who are disconnected as a result of biological / developmental reasons that (if we don’t correct this problem) will eventual unplug from the community as a result of feeling misunderstood and under-valued.
In an effort to facilitate dialogue, we must first acknowledge that there is a problem. Secondly, we must be willing to collaboratively come up with solutions. To the elders: If you have properly trained your replacement, what is needed for you to make the transition from your current post? To the 30-40 somethings: As a mentee that has demonstrated knowledge and skills, what can you do to alleviate the anxieties and gain the further confidence of your mentor? Additionally, what is needed to make it worth your while to wait out the reign of your successor and keep your talents in the community?
Business as usual isn’t working … We know better so let’s conversate so that we can actively do better. Fact: If your replacement is not properly trained and you did not give them an opportunity to lead under your mentorship, your legacy, vision and efforts will likely be a distant memory rather than a current reality.
Metro Educational Consulting and Psychological Services
Vangie Akridge, PsyD., L.E.P.
Licensed Educational Psychologist #3265
Bus. Tel: 877.619.6701
Bus. Fax: 877.619.6701