Here are the questions:
- How do I integrate my leadership responsibilities with my work?
- What is the story I want to tell through my leadership (this is all about vision for my program)?
- What is the story I want to tell about my leadership (this is all about career advancement/promotion)?
I am a poet/writer, editor, community organizer (through the arts), teacher educator, scholar, edtech user and occasional trainer (wish I did more work on this), director of a small program. It’s hard for me to identify where there is not leadership in all of those roles. As a writer, for example, even though I create as generally an independent writer, I have to be self-motivated in cultivating a reading list. I identify residencies and apply to them. I share what I find with others and encourage my colleagues to apply. I compose reading proposals and curate readings in connection with other artists and venues. If I can, I try to find a way to pay people as well for their artistic work … where is there not leadership?
Recently, on a train, my recently retired mother (who has been a manager with a staff of over a 100 social workers in support of elders; a nonprofit founder and leader; a director of social work programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels) said that she found it funny that I am now stepping into the role of director. I find it no surprise. I’ve been witness to office policies and procedures in multiple contexts since before I was attending school. My mother would often pick me and my brother up from school or day care as children. We would play under her desk with rubber bands and paper clips. We didn’t attend meetings with her, except when others came to her office to meet. We were given tasks to staple packets (this is why I still prefer to staple things by hand over having a copier do it. Sort of a meditative practice … and the copier breaks down less often); collate papers; and later, create and maintain websites, review spreadsheets and budgets. I am more of the relational and policies and procedures person; my brother now works in finance and accounting. I think, sometimes, of the skills we learn from our parents and communities and how that translates into our future endeavors.
There has also been a compassionate care in my mother’s leadership that I have also witnessed over my life. Her care for colleagues and elders, her advocacy for elders and students through boards, action as director, and speaking “truth to power” in all these spaces. It would have been surprising if I didn’t do something with leadership. It would also be surprising if I wasn’t thoughtful about care within leadership … though, as someone who has grown up surrounded by human service professionals who did not think of self-care as an essential, sustaining part of their work, I don’t think about self-care enough as an aspect of leadership.
What is the story I want to tell through my leadership?
I want to focus on equity in education, providing space for brave conversations and the building of deep and sustaining relationships between the program, schools, and community members and supports. I want to focus on wrap around partnerships for the development of creative and critical youth.
What is the story I want to tell about my leadership?
Ultimately, the story I want to tell about my leadership is that of intersectionality in identity and purpose, how it is possible and should be a goal to foster complexity and entanglements (or how I see coalition building).
#twt, #29of52, #52essays2017