This guest post from Richard Friend, Ph.D., Friend and Associates originally appeared on the Multicultural Forum blog.

MCFIf leadership involves the use of self to influence others, and leaders at their best are lifelong learners, this is the perfect time of year to commit to the ongoing self-development required to enhance YOUR diversity and inclusion (D&I) leadership potential. Below are 12 statements to ponder, one per month, over the next year. Explore each statement in writing then discuss them and solicit feedback from your colleagues, trusted friends, family members and from those whose followership you are trying to inspire and mobilize. Pay attention to the themes that emerge each month as you contemplate each of the statements, and notice the patterns that surface during this year long self-reflection process.

Since people follow people before they follow plans, leadership development at its core is a journey inward. The first set of statements focus on knowing yourself, building authenticity and aligning your actions with your values. The remaining few focus more outward on the leadership resources required to influence others.

  1. The most critical life event that has shaped the diversity and inclusion leadership path I’ve taken is…
  2. The difference I want to see/make with respect to diversity and inclusion is…
  3. The risk I need to take to be a more effective D&I leader is…
  4. My D&I “hot buttons” and “blind spots” include… I have learned to manage them by…
  5. With respect to D&I, times when I am at my best include… Times when I am most challenged include…
  6. An example where I recently leaned into discomfort as a pathway for D&I learning includes… What this taught me was…
  7. If others didn’t hold me accountable, one of the things I might not be doing as well or as often with respect to D&I is… If I didn’t hold others accountable, one of the things that might not be happening as well or as often with respect to D&I is…
  8. 8. The people who have helped me grow and stretch most with respect to D&I include… Today I surround myself with folks who continue to teach me about D&I by…
  9. What is uniquely mine to do or be, that engages others to WANT to do what it takes to promote inclusion includes…
  10. With respect to D&I, I know I am I worthy of being followed because…
  11. While it’s not about me, the part of promoting D&I that is up to me is … I manage this paradox by…
  12. How I am able to foster a sense of purpose that transcends me, my team and the organization so we are connected to make a difference that matters in the larger world includes…

Seriously consider these statements and take the time to reflect and dialogue with others about them. Ongoing and honest self-assessment of this type enhances your ability to make the difference you are here to make as a D&I leader. On March 20 – 22, 2012 join me and other thought leaders in the D&I field at this year’s Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity. I will be facilitating an experiential workshop on what followers expect from D&I leaders where we will explore some of the challenges and opportunities embedded in the statements above. I look forward to seeing you in Minneapolis!

Presented by the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas in partnership with the National Black MBA Association Twin Cities, the Multicultural Forum is the nation’s leading conference for advancing diversity in the workplace.