The question of diversity has always been a central theme in my life for as long as I can remember. Living in a big city and a multi-cultural neighborhood has always brought a varied amount of people at my doorstep. However, on taking this course, I discovered many things that were not essentially a part of my psyche, but were nevertheless important to remember even as I develop my leadership skills. As a student and a leader in my right, I find that my leadership principles and practices usually evolved out of the varied experiences I have encountered in my personal life. Living in the 21st century has its challenges and the pressure to maintain authenticity in leadership is an invaluable skill. At the same time, learning concepts that deal with oppression, privilege, and social justice has served further to enhance my appreciation of diversity in a multi-cultural world.
In looking at the principles discussed in The Matrix Reader, the authors drawn on multiple experiences of people from varied backgrounds to shed light on some of the biggest problems that affect our society today. One of the things that I captured in the learning process was the linkage between privilege and diversity in our world. I hail from a privileged background as I have been able to have access to many things that my peers can only dream of having in the future. My journey and growth in an upper-middle-income family have exposed me to some of the best opportunities in life with regards to issues such as education, healthcare, and association. These are matters that have formed the core of my upbringing. Despite this, I have always found out that I am flexible individual due to my multicultural upbringing. However, the concept of privilege has always weighed me down when I compare my life to those of my closest friends.
Experiencing advantage in my personal life has always stood out to be a major point in my interactions with the world environment. The concepts taught in the course brought this point more clearly. The nature of our society has allowed some institutions to persist despite the many issues that continue to plague our society such as inequality, oppression, and social injustices. At a personal level, I have started to rethink my concept of privilege and opportunity. In one of the readings from the course, I came across a statement that symbolized my new perception towards leadership and social justice. Harry Brod said Privilege is not something I take and which I, therefore, have the option to not taking. It is something that society gives me, and unless I change the institutions which give it to me, they will continue to give it, and I will continue to have it, however, noble and egalitarian my intentions.
In looking at the above statement, the impression I get is that leadership is a point of action that necessitates a change in our present environment. Analyzing my development in the perspective of development projectile, I would say that my Entering Phase about the development of diversity-conscious principles was dynamic as it was constructive. As mentioned before, having a multicultural upbringing has allowed me to appreciate the differences in the many people that we may interact with in the course of a lifetime. However, the coursework in this module has made see many gaps that constitute my Present Phase when it comes to my leadership skills in a diverse world.
As a person who has always grown in an environment of privilege and abundant opportunities, I have always felt the weight of this privilege on my conscience every time I interact with the world around me. I have always harbored the desire to change things around me, but I always seem to hit a dead end. The concepts taught in this course have helped me to embrace my privileged status in society. In my Present Phase, various processes and mental models have been transformed to a point whereby inaction is no longer an option. Firstly, as a leader, I have come to embrace the value of communication skills in encouraging diversity among our peers. A leadership that values diversity in an organization is one that takes the time to listen and build strong relationships based on the principles of understanding and respect. I had discovered that human capacity is strengthened when people chose to listen to one another and appreciate the differences in opinions and perceptions on a wide range of issues. In my Present Phase, there is a clear need to ensure that thought and actions are inextricably yoked together.
As such, the next step is to ensure that the culture in the environment changes to appropriate the different variations that exist among people. As I mentioned earlier, I am now inclined towards appropriating change in the appropriate places in my area of work. As much as I am an open-minded individual, it is the time I moved out of my cocoon and became a person that initiates change and development in my environment. Sometimes, this means addressing the hard issues even when they are present to those who are close to me such as my friends, family members, and colleagues. A big part of the structures and institutions that enhance inequality and oppression is their cultural environment. I am discovering that my position of privilege can be a force for good in building organizational cultures that embrace diversity. It is not an uncommon sight to find people perpetuating the norm by refusing to speak against perceived injustices in an organization. The path of least resistance is always preferred in such situations so as to avoid confrontation. However, such a posture only ends up increasing oppressive regimes in organizations, as well as the society at large. My Present Phase is increasingly characterized by courage and a determination to not accept the status quo as the norm. If I refuse to talk and face the oppressive elements in my environment, it is also a choice that I have made that will only bring harm to the people who need my help.
Presently, I am also conscious of policy development concepts as seen in some of the articles presented in The Matrix Reader. While cultural changes are required, it is essential to enhance equality by actually changing the systems responsible for perpetuating oppression and social injustices. At my place of work, I realize that it is crucial to learn some of the ways that leaders can use to develop policies that encourage diversity of thought, opinion, and expression. One of my favorite sayings is, What evil requires are simply ordinary people doing nothing. The saying essentially points to the power of structures and institutions to punctuate oppression our society. A great example in my workplace is seen in the way in gender and sexual diversity principles and outcomes. Firstly, gender diversity is a concept that is slowly being ingrained in the organization. However, women have to fight more than the men generally to have access to the same opportunities. Enhancing policies based on merit can go a long way to ensuring that women are respected in organizations. Sexual orientation is another concept that has raised many eyebrows even as it gains prominence in our organizations. The LGBT community has to face a highly toxic environment in many different contexts including the work environment. As such, human resource development policies have to be well crafted to ensure that change is realized. Another issue that requires structural adjustment be concerned with racial diversity. Studies have shown that organizations that encourage racial diversity tend to perform better in their sectors as compared to those that have limited policies that target diversity.
Based on such an understanding, I believe that the Future Phase of my leadership development process will involve the greater capacity to impact systems and structures through the propagation of policies that require organizations to be mindful of oppressive elements in them. However, I envision a greater capacity to interact with core community development initiatives since oppression is inherently a societal problem. As such, to implement change would require greater action to be taken to such a level. I desire to have the ability to collaborate with many like-minded individuals and organizations that are keen on ensuring that diversity is not just a fancy word that can be used to gain political mileage. In line with authentic leadership principles, there is a need to improve the abilities of people to change their environment even as they see me actively work to create a better environment for people from all backgrounds.
Champy, Jim. "Authentic Leadership." Leader to Leader 2009, no. 54 (2009): 39-44.
Ferber, Abby L. The Matrix Reader. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill, 2009.
Morrone, Michele and Geoffrey L Buckley. Mountains of Injustice. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2011.
Mullaly, Robert P. Challenging Oppression and Confronting Privilege. Don Mills, Ont.: Oxford University Press, 2010.
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