I have a little secret I need to share with you all: I grew up in the hood. Not the South Central/Cabrini Green/Hell’s Kitchen hood – but it wasn’t the milky white suburban existence my kids are growing up in right now! On my 2 mile walk to school (we couldn’t afford busing) I passed a General Motors Metal Fab Plant, crossed a bridge over a 6 lane highway (if we were late we would just run across the highway instead of walking to cross at the bridge) and at least one flea-bag hotel where you could buy your drug or woman of choice. So, as far as white people go – it was as close to a hood as I wanted to be in!
Being that I’m so street – I grew up listening to rap music, and to this day, still do. My oldest son is now 15, and to his mother’s shagrin, he also is a listener to rap music. To me rap music was like poetry, the creativity it took to write and rhyme lyrics from a street perspective always captivated me. Most people don’t “listen” to rap, they “hear” rap – and it doesn’t connect with them. The stories and lessons of songs connected with me.
As I look back on 30 years of listening to rap music, I’ve come to realize I take a ton of my leadership style from the music that shaped me growing up. So, since this is my blog, I’m starting a new weekly series for 2012 – the 25 Rap Lyrics That Have Shaped My Leadership Style.
This weeks Lyric:
Tupac – I Ain’t Mad At Cha
I guess change is good for any of us
Whatever it take for any of y’all niggaz to get up out the hood
Shit, I’m wit cha, I ain’t mad at cha
Got nuttin but love for ya, do your thing boy”
When I first started my HR career I would get so upset over people who decided to leave the organization I was with – and I saw that most of the leadership responded the same way! If someone decided to leave “us” – we would virtually tear your shirt – that person was “dead” to the organization. Years later the person would want to come back, and they wouldn’t be able to because they were “black-balled” from the company. I’m sure many of your organizations are that way today.
I had a good HR mentor at one of my HR stops that got me to look at this in a new way, and the Tupac lyric makes me remember this learning. People leave for all kinds of reasons, and even sometimes you want people to leave your organization – that doesn’t mean that a year or two or three, later – they wouldn’t be the perfect fit to come back. When a good performer makes the decision to leave my organization now, I ask if there is anything I can do to help in their transition (after I try to talk them into staying). I try and make it easy for them, because I know it was a tough decision for them, I don’t need to make it tougher. It’s a small world and I try and have strong relationships that will outlast a job change or two. If I have a good relationship with a good person – there is a good chance I will want to work with that person again in the future.
I ain’t mad at cha – got nothin but love for ya.