Career success for all is a two way street. Professional success requires each of us to reach out to people different than us.
In the Monster article called Mentors Lead the Way to Success for African Americans the author writes
Most successful professionals can attribute much of their achievement to their mentoring relationships. Unfortunately, mentors tend to be drawn toward proteges that remind them of themselves. This frequently unconscious bias is human nature. Since most of the people at the top are white males, most of their proteges are the same.
This leads me to share a new phenomenon that we are hearing at our office. White guys who have moved up rank within a very diverse organizations and find themselves for the first time leading a team of white guys. These are men who were groomed in teams consisting of women, various ethnicities, races, and religious backgrounds. Their bosses, co workers and mentors were not white males. These men often consider themselves “different” than the average white guy.
They moved up rank and for the first time they are leading all white male teams. It is at that moment that they confront their own bias about other Caucasian men.
There is a disconnect. We hear variations of these themes from these executives.
Managing a team of white guys is different, isn’t it?
These guys are all the same, aren’t they?
Each member of the team is unique. There is an assumption that because they are white guys they must be the same. Not true.
This assumption hurts teams, mentoring relationships and the success of all involved. Again this discussions are coming from white men who have either been the only white guy on their team for several years.
With demographic shifts, including a high percentage of women in middle management professional development for the young white guy will look different. White guys need mentors from people of different races, genders and backgrounds who have success in their field of expertise.
Just as people who are not white guys need white guys for mentors white guys need a variety of mentors with different backgrounds and experiences.
Each of us has to be willing to see the different dimensions of who we are and find what I call our Diversity Connectors (TM) so that our organizations grow.