Equity-Centered Leadership—Change and Self-Care
“One key to successful leadership is continuous personal change. Personal change is a reflection of our inner growth and empowerment.” — Robert E. Quinn
Would you like to be viewed as a guardian of equity? The kind of leader who doesn’t create an environment that’s simply “accommodating,” but is actually brave enough to transform the environment.
This is easier said than done. In order for this to happen, we must transform how we operate and learn to acknowledge everyone’s voice. What’s your situation? Whether it’s a classroom, office environment, community event, or some other location, we all struggle with sustainable change. How can we as leaders play our part?
The answer: become an equity-centered leader. That was the topic of my last two posts, where we covered three steps in the “equicentric” leadership model. There are five processes to this model: name it, activate self-awareness, remember the past, commit to change, and schedule self-care.
Using this model you can become a more adaptable leader. The “equicentric” leadership model was created by Laura Aguada-Hallberg and me with the goal of empowering leaders as they take their journey toward becoming a more equity-centered leader.
Let’s discuss the fourth and fifth steps in this model.
Step Four in the Equicentric Leadership Model: Commit to Change
Too often, we’re unknowingly shaped by others in ways that don’t serve our higher purpose. Author Zaretta Hammond, in her book, Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, says that we each carry an array of narratives that can act like “software” in our brains. These narratives are in place to tell us how to behave in different contexts.
According to the book, these narratives are often dominated by what she calls a “master narrative,” that is, society’s idea of how a person should act. Hammond says that everyone needs to form a counternarrative, based on their personal identity and experiences, that rejects any misconceptions in the “master narrative.”
That’s why, in this step, we ask leaders to construct their own counternarrative that acknowledges how their experiences might inform their actions. At this point, we also ask that they make a commitment to lead with equity as their goal. We check in with the leaders over a six-month period to see how their counternarrative has evolved.
Step Five in the Equicentric Leadership Model: Schedule Self-Care
It’s impossible to be an equity-centered leader without a consistent schedule of self-care, without it, you will only find yourself frustrated and burnt-out. Do you feel like your health, personal relationships, or workload are unsustainable? If you do, then that’s where you need to start.
Be sure to schedule a time for self-care in your calendar, and honor that time. It should be non-negotiable: that time is sacred. Finally, you should know that the work that you put into your self-care ensures that you can be there for your community in the long-term. How can you encourage others to believe in their self-worth if you consistently neglect your own?
In my experience, leaders are often left with very little time for self-reflection, which leaves them constantly in a reactive state. To my mind, that’s the true value of this model: it forces us to think proactively about equity.
It’s only when we can learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, even when that discomfort is the awareness of our own biases, that we can begin to challenge, and with any luck change long-standing systemic inequities. It takes time and focused effort to learn how to be an intentional leader.
Equity-centered leadership coaching is an integral part of my work at the Center for Learning Leaders. If you’re ready to make changes and lead with intention and integrity please contact me.
As leaders, we all want to play a part in creating sustainable practices that have the power to transform our communities.