Leaders looking for equity leadership
In my work helping many public sector leaders lean into innovation and design and create new roles for their organizations, my colleagues and I have borrowed learnings from other sectors. We’ve engaged with trainings, speakers and concepts that have helped support innovation, creative thinking and design for all types of sectors and applied them to community-based public sector solutions. We took the wide- angle view and looked across all sectors to find strategies and models for innovation and asked governmental agencies to consider finding some inspiration from their methods.
It’s so exciting to see so many companies and organizations engaging in current social movements related to equity. For many, aside from perhaps having a dedicated internal position for Diversity and Inclusion within their organizations, this is a new opportunity with a lot of momentum to more deeply engage with equity practices.
It has occurred to me that perhaps now the tables have turned and corporate and other sectors have an opportunity to learn from the public sector as they have been engaging in equity work at varying levels for a long while.
Many of the leaders I have served are not surprised by recent events because they are the trailblazers, the ones who have been working behind the scenes on these issues at a systems level. They, their staff and the people they serve have been feeling the effects of these issues firsthand for decades.
One of the reasons I enjoy leadership coaching so much is that I get really excited to learn new ways of how people can work together towards common goals. I’ve had the privilege of seeing up close how leaders are trying different approaches to equity work both for their organizations and their partners and communities. If you find yourself wondering how you can offer a response to the people you lead consider these common qualities I’ve noticed among leaders guiding equity work that is having transformative results.
COMMON QUALITIES IN LEADERS
- Equity leaders can balance tuning out the noise while deeply engaging in careful, attentive listening. They push themselves to leave their zones of comfort and seek out listening opportunities.
- Equity leaders understand that everyone has some level of personal bias and they are committed to exploring their own biases and helping their teams and staff do the same.
- Equity leaders understand that the way they can best have a positive effect of moving equity work forward is to carefully examine the systems within their organizations and within the external network and commit to dismantling and rebuilding replacement systems that embody foundations of equity.
Admittedly, this is an oversimplified summary of leadership approaches for equity work and there is a whole lot more to dig into to do this critical work right. That said, transformative systems level work to improve equity standards takes time, persistence and commitment from the highest levels of leadership. The good news is we have existing and emerging models of how to do this work well and this may be an opportunity to leverage the growing large-scale momentum elevating its importance.
Effective equity advocates have shown us that mastering a mutual learning mindset and enhanced engagement skills are the path to transformative change with large scale effects.