A Humble Approach to Being An Anti-Racist Leader
The following is the second of 11 posts dedicated to providing an overview of the No-Nonsense Nurturer leader behaviors in anticipation of CT3’s summer leadership workshops. We hope to support all leaders with behaviors essential for every organization.
The No-Nonsense Nurturer® Leader:
- Models humility
- Sets high expectations
- Creates a culture of coaching
- Builds collective efficacy
- Recognizes and develops growth mindsets, always striving to be asset based
- Solicits voice and perspective
- Generates culture (and systems) of accountability
- Builds trusting relationships
- Commits to being an anti-racist
As we think about our work with the most vulnerable populations, we must view it with a lens that is supportive and has the greatest positive impact. In order to do that, we have to know what it means to serve, know who we serve and why, allow ourselves to be vulnerable, and commit to growth.
To start, Service teaches us the act of being selfless. It allows us to think first about the needs of others and then consider how we can help (www.theodysseyonline.com, Aug. 7, 2017). Service alone does not make us humble or help us approach our work with an anti-racist lens. That requires us to know who we serve. This means we must be culturally competent in order to build truly authentic relationships with those we serve and to act in their best interest.
Once we become humble servants to our stakeholders, we then have to allow ourselves to be Vulnerable. Being vulnerable means exposing ourselves to the possibility of emotional or physical harm, meaning we have to know our limitations and/or lack of knowledge about those we serve. In addition, we must lay our pride aside and be willing to openly admit our limitations and seek help to fill gaps in knowledge and practice.
As a young principal, I made many assumptions, acted on those assumptions and found it hard to identify and own my areas of growth. As a result, early in my career, I struggled with meeting the needs of my scholars. My teachers struggled because I struggled. I felt that asking for help made you look less effective to those above you. One area I had to grow in was adjusting to the culture in New York. Certain norms we had in the Black community of the South differed from those in my new home of the North.
I had to do some learning and found out quite a bit about the city I called home and the generations affected by northern migration, good paying factory jobs, smaller focuses on college or training programs and unjust judicial/police practices. I had a better understanding of where my scholars came from and why things were the way they were. I quickly humbled myself and began to own that misstep. The result: I was respected more and built better relationships and soon, things overall began to improve. The shift I made was from placing my performance first to doing what I needed to ensure the best interest of my scholars was always at the top of our priority list.
The humble leader will always put scholars first, resulting in a leader who will grow in skill and knowledge of what’s best for their scholars. As leaders of Black and Brown children, it is imperative we are conscious of practices that harm and create disadvantages. We must be willing to admit limitations, commit to growth that will help us better serve our children and make a stance against anti-racist practices and policies.
CT3 transforms the quality and culture of education for youth, especially those in traditionally disenfranchised communities.