The Model Black - Ideas for Leaders

The Model Black

How Black British Leaders Succeed in Organisations and Why It Matters

About Author/s:

Barbara Banda is the founder of the leadership consultancy, BarbaraBandaConsulting, which works with Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies. She is Professor of Practice and Educator in Leadership, Inclusive Leadership and Change at Duke Corporate Education, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and Hult Ashridge. Barbara holds five degrees, including a D.Phil from the University of Oxford that explored the importance of connecting management education to the workplace. She is black British of Jamaican heritage


The challenges experienced by black leaders in a predominantly white workplace are unique in nature. The inability of certain leaders to talk about race appropriately and “fill the silence”, hampers their performance and leads to employees not bringing their full selves to the workplace. Professional success largely depends on the leader’s ability to build a top and diverse team. Through the compelling and intimate stories shared by successful black British leaders, The Model Black serves as an essential guidebook for leaders, which drives leaders to open their eyes to foster a respectful and inclusive culture and achieve higher levels of employee motivation, productivity and retention.

Core Idea

While the focus in Barbara Banda’s book is on black leaders, the stories shared are not entirely unlike the experiences endured by other communities in the workplace. As a reader, expect to learn the following from stories shared in The Model Black:

  • To develop emotional intelligence and embrace diversity, cultivating a sense of belonging in the workplace regardless of other people’s race, ethnicity, religion, culture, gender, sexual orientation or class
  • To identify and adapt your own leadership style to not only increase team productivity, but also build bridges with colleagues from all backgrounds
  • To “fill the silence” what were previously identified as difficult conversations on race in the workplace
  • To become a workplace equality advocate and an inclusive employer, not only for black employees but others in the business community who share similar experiences, such as LGBTQ+ professionals

The Model Black is a rich source of practical advice, both for leaders and professionals, with effective recommendations from a deeply personal angle that you can apply today to create a diverse workforce, which has been shown to have a direct impact on the bottom line of organisations.

As the world’s population grows and our connectivity increases, leaders have a responsibility to cultivate a sense of belonging in the workplace regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, culture, gender, sexual orientation or class. Increased diversity coupled with the shift towards remote and hybrid work environments means it is more critical than ever to develop proper communication strategies and practices. The Model Black serves as a go-to guide to enrich leadership skills by embracing diversity in all its forms and cultivating a sense of belonging in the workplace.


Despite having both grown up in a diverse community and studied at a university in the United States in which I was proud to have black neighbors, teachers, coaches, professors and leaders in my circles from a young age, I was unprepared for the stories I would encounter in The Model Black and wildly unaware of the challenges such leaders and aspiring professionals face. Since reading The Model Black, I have already felt more confident filling the silence in the room when black professionals and leaders have raised challenging questions on race in public forums.


Review by Amber Wigmore Alvarez, Chief Talent Officer at Highered


Model Black

  • Title: The Model Black: How Black British Leaders Succeed in Organisations and Why It Matters

    Author/s Name/s: Barbara Banda

    Publisher: Routledge


    Publishing Date: June, 2022

    Number of Pages: 208

  • Author Knowledge Rating: 1-5 (based on their years of experience, academic expertise in subject areas, and exposure to cross-functional thinking in the area)
    Readability: 1-5 score(1=dense and v academic; 5=frantic; page turner)
    Appropriate Length: (1=could have been written in 25% of the length;5=could have been longer)
    Core Idea Value: (1=nonsense (or entirely esoteric); 5=game-changer)