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.