Stepping up as an authentic queer leader

Reading Time: 5-10 Mins
Category: Workplace
Author: Oscar Hoyle

Earlier in the month, we had the fantastic opportunity to hear from Aisha Shaibu-Lenoir, the CEO of Moonlight Experiences & a board member at UK Black Pride. In the fantastic webinar, which you can catch up on by clicking here, Aisha spoke about her inspiring journey into leadership and identified some of the skills you’d need to become a leader in business. 


The webinar left me reflecting on is the difference between leadership and management. Management and leadership represent two fundamental yet distinct facets within the workplace dynamics. Management revolves around the administration of tasks, processes, and resources, with a focus on efficiency and effectiveness in achieving predefined objectives. Managers wield formal authority derived from their position within the hierarchy, ensuring day-to-day operations run smoothly and goals are met within established parameters. Conversely, leadership centers on inspiring and motivating individuals or teams towards a shared vision or goal. Leaders may not hold formal authority but leverage personal qualities, expertise, or charisma to influence others. Their role involves setting direction, fostering innovation, and cultivating a culture conducive to growth and adaptability. While management emphasises stability and short-term objectives, leadership drives long-term strategic direction and encourages organisational change. A successful organisation typically integrates both management and leadership capabilities, recognising the complementary nature of these roles in navigating the complexities of today’s business landscape.


It often feels as if we’re waiting for a management position to step up as a leader… But perhaps this is the wrong way around? Indeed, the conventional notion of waiting for a management position to step up as a leader seems like the right approach, but as a generation that’s shaking up the workforce, I don’t think we need to wait. Leadership is not solely tied to formal authority or hierarchical positions; rather, it is a quality that can be cultivated and demonstrated at any level within an organisation. While management roles provide opportunities for leadership, true leadership transcends job titles and organisational structures. It’s about taking initiative, inspiring others, and driving positive change, regardless of your position. By embracing a mindset of leadership, individuals can influence their peers, contribute to a culture of collaboration and innovation, and make meaningful impacts within their spheres of influence. 


I suppose that the notion of stepping up as a leader in a junior role might contradict the idea that most of our generation perpetuates – act your wage – but this isn’t necessarily about taking on more work. We’re talking about role modeling positive behaviours which help your colleagues to thrive,  to act as a force of good which creates a positive work environment for everyone, and to challenge unconstructive behaviours. Something that I’d argue, most people already do in their daily life to some extent. 


BUT navigating the path to leadership can present unique challenges for individuals who identify as LGBT. Discrimination, bias, and fears of backlash may hinder confidence in your leadership abilities. However, embracing your identity as an LGBT individual can actually enhance leadership effectiveness by bringing diverse perspectives and experiences to the table. We scream about being proud – but we need to ensure this pride follows us into the way we carry ourselves in the workplace.


To overcome fears related to identity, it’s crucial to foster self-acceptance and authenticity. Seek out supportive networks, both within and outside of the workplace, where you can connect with other LGBT leaders and allies. Additionally, consider mentorship opportunities with experienced leaders who can offer guidance and support. By building a strong sense of self and surrounding yourself with a supportive community, you can overcome fears and unleash your full potential as a leader, harnessing the power of your identity to drive positive change and create a more inclusive workplace environment.



Want to learn more about our mentoring?

Blossom LGBT CIC offers free one to one mentoring for LGBTQIA+ young adults aged below 30 to help them thrive in the workplace.

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