FIRST & 42 continues to celebrate the region’s up-and-coming stars from the 2020 class of Leadership Kalamazoo with the Leader Spotlight. Jump in and learn about these leaders’ “firsts” in life as well as their answers to a few deeper questions about their leadership and vision for our community. Featured today is Leatrice Brooks, owner, psychologist, speaker, and executive coach with Chosen, PLLC and The POWER in Presence, LLC. Her practice has been in business for five years and her daily work includes seeing clients, having one-on-one’s with team members, building and managing business relationships, and equipping her team for greater work.
To Leatrice, leadership is “the ability to see where a person is, understand where they could go, and be willing to take them there.” Emphasizing that leadership is also a commitment to growth, development, and taking informed healthy risks, Leatrice also shared with us who her favorite leader is (It’s Dr. Addis Moore, senior pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist Church) and some advice for emerging leaders: “Find a great local leader to follow, shadow, mentor, and groom you for leadership.” Leatrice wrapped up by sharing her vision for our community in the coming years. She said, “I hope the community can grow to be more culturally aware, sensitive, and mindful of how to help and support persons of color through action and resources, not just with words or finances.” Keep reading for the full interview with Leatrice Brooks.
First Things First
WHAT IS THE FIRST APP YOU CHECK IN THE MORNING?
Right now I check the Amazon app first for the excitement of receiving packages. I am happy to have graduated from checking email first.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST EVER OFFICIAL LEADERSHIP POSITION?
Maybe being a teaching assistant in undergrad. I started as a teaching assistant my sophomore year of undergrad and continued every semester through the fourth year of my doctoral program.
WHAT WOULD BE THE FIRST THING YOU DO IF YOU EVER WON THE LOTTERY?
I would give tithes and offerings to my church, Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Kalamazoo.
The Deep Dive
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN YOUR CURRENT POSITION? WHAT ARE YOUR DAY-TO-DAY RESPONSIBILITIES?
My practice has been in business for five years. Day-to-day, I see clients, have one-on-one’s with team members, build and manage business relationships, and equip the team for greater work. I also explore options for streamlining our office procedures and ways to consistently make improvements for our clients and staff.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE LEADERSHIP?
Leadership is the ability to see where a person is, understand where they could go, and be willing to take them there. Leadership is recognizing that leadership is a journey regardless of which seat you sit in—as the person leading or being led. It’s a willingness to lead and follow, to show, demonstrate, model, and give opportunity to someone else. Leadership is a forever commitment to growth, development, and taking informed healthy risks.
WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND YOUNG PROFESSIONALS DO TO GET A JUMP ON BUILDING THEIR LEADERSHIP SKILLS?
Find a great local leader to follow, shadow, mentor, and groom you for leadership. It’s not enough to just observe or read about leadership or great leaders. The greatest leaders are also great mentors and respond well to people who take initiative and have a hunger to learn. If you trust the leader you are following, do what they say. I am where I am because I follow well. It’s okay to ask questions but don’t question. Be inquisitive and listen. Don’t know too much.
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE HISTORICAL LEADER? WHY?
I am very much a relationship- and application-driven person, so when I think about a favorite leader, I think about people I am directly connected to. I would have to say my pastor, Dr. Addis Moore, is my favorite leader. I don’t know if he would be considered historical, but he is the person that comes to mind and has been personally impactful to my growth and development as a leader. He has been the pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Kalamazoo for 25 years. He is great at balancing his role as a leader and being relational with the people he is leading. He is very intentional, other- and community-focused, and a visionary. Dr. Moore consistently challenges people to grow and use your growth to help others develop.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR OUR COMMUNITY IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
I would like to see the community be intentional about working collaboratively to meet the needs of the entire community and not just people who look like themselves. There is often a lack of awareness and attention to the needs of others and a separation that happens that creates and perpetuates division around race and access. I hope the community can grow to be more culturally aware, sensitive, and mindful of how to help and support persons of color through action and resources, not just with words or finances. The Kalamazoo community indeed has its own work to do around race relations. Covert racism is very real here. There has to be a change in the self-focused mentality that some people possess. I appreciate those who recognize the limitations and are willing to do their own work and use their power to create meaningful and lasting change for others.