My leadership journey to date has been one of critical reflection and dynamic change. While I have been viewed as a leader in my field for some time, I didn't necessarily view myself as a leader. What I've come to realize over the past year is that leadership isn't always about who has the loudest voice in the room, its about who is modeling the path forward, who is distributing power equitable and who is leading by example. I've spent a lot of time critically reflecting on how I want to lead my research center and have been grappling with the fact that antiracist leadership to me means that everyone has a voice and a say in the decision being made...No decision is made unilaterally. It also means that I need to ensure that those who are on my team have autonomy, trust their instincts and gut and expertise in making decisions in our work. Over the past year I've identified and grappled with several challenges with this model. The first is that academia is not set up for this type of leadership model. Academia demands hierarchy. Academia demands that the person in charge have the only and final say. Pushing back against this has made colleagues outside of my research center very uneasy and uncomfortable. And in some instances angry...when they want me--"the boss" to show up at a meeting and make a decision and instead I've shifted power to a colleague with fewer letters behind their name or a different title. Second, as I've led my team through operations planning I've found that my style of leadership while appreciated and a shared value amongst the team also leaves some colleagues on our team feeling anxious. We will spend some time in the new year together as a team but also me personally reflecting on the path forward and how to do our work in a way that feels good for everyone and allows us to push back again hierarchical structures that replicate white supremacy.
Ultimately, I am proud of the transformation and growth I've had over the past year and I understand and trust myself as a leader a lot more. Rather than second guessing decisions, I've learned to trust my gut instincts and I've learned to get quiet and listen and take cues from my body. I've also become more brave and bold in sharing my decision making and thought process with my colleagues and staff to model for them an example of leadership in our corner of academia.