Much has been made—and rightfully so—of the need for America’s institutions to embrace diversity and inclusion in anticipation of the “browning” of America. However, not enough has been provided in the way of survival and success strategies for those African Americans who must brave and conquer the corridors of corporate business. Black Faces in White Places: 10 Game-Changing Strategies to Achieve Success and Find Greatness (Amacom; $24.95), written by former Rhodes scholar and winner of season four of NBC’s The Apprentice Randal Pinkett, Ph.D.; business scholar Jeffrey Robinson, Ph.D.; and veteran business journalist and Associated Press Business News Editor Philana Patterson, is designed as a playbook. The authors make the case that, until recently, African Americans focused primarily on strategies and skills necessary to get into professions, businesses, and institutions previously closed to them—to shatter the “glass ceiling.” Today, black achievers must learn how to survive and thrive in an environment that is ever-changing. No. 3 among their 10 Game-Changing Strategies: Demonstrate excellence.
Here’s how the authors suggest you maintain high standards of performance:
- Go deep and wide. Immerse yourself in a particular area. Become an expert and create a space where you can develop a reputation for yourself. But also diversify your skills in related areas.
- Recognize that excellence is your best ally. Even meritocracies can be subjective unless you decide to become an active participant with your supervisor in setting the criteria and benchmarks by which you will be judged. It is important to meet regularly with your supervisor to make sure that your performance is in line with performance expectations.
- Learn your game. What is the culture of your organization? That includes knowing the influencers, the gatekeepers, decision makers, and all of the unwritten rules and codes of the company, all of which will determine the rate and pace at which you advance professionally.
For more information on their work strategies, visit the online supplement www.redefinethegame.com.