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One Good Point... Amy Rutstein-Riley

One Good Point… Amy Rutstein-Riley

Amy Rutstein-Riley, PhD, is the Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Leadership and Change and Director of the PhD program of the same name.  

I’m an interdisciplinary social scientist concerned with girls’ and women’s identity development. I think a lot about creating learning environments where girls and women can flourish.

Recently, I attended and presented at the International Leadership Association’s Global Conference in Vancouver, Canada. While there, I repeatedly heard throughout the conference the question, “What is my leadership purpose, and how do I show up?” That simple but powerful question resonated with me and got me thinking about how I show up as a teacher, scholar, and leader in the communities in which I serve.

For me, this comes down to an authentic, relational, reflective, and connected self. This means leading with openness, a desire to listen, to learn from and with others, and with an empathic stance where I can perspective take and come to understand another’s lived experience. As a relational leader, I am more likely to be able to authentically form relationships and connect with others, and to inspire them toward growth.

When I work from these standpoints, it isn’t always easy, but mindfully reflecting on how I show up, in turn, informs my teaching, learning, and leading. Relational cultural theorists and practitioners, feminist psychologists, and relational leadership scholars center connection as a primary vehicle for fostering growth and change.

The work I do with girls, for example, in the Girlhood Project or with women faculty through women’s leadership development programs I facilitate, I center relationships, vulnerability, shared power, and critical reflection. These are practices deeply tied to who I am as a teacher, learner, and leader. And I suppose to go back to that original question- is my leadership purpose? 

For me, as a relational leader, inspiring others toward growth, whatever the growth goal, is at the heart of my teaching, learning, and leading identity. 

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