Executive director, principal, manager, often we associate leadership with titles. I often do not see people that look like me in leadership positions. It is rare even in helping professions to see the identities of the people served reflected in the leadership of an organization. Yet, leadership is more than titles. Leadership is the ability to influence regardless of the power dynamic.
I do not necessarily have to have a title in order to be a leader. Women of color can be leaders simply by being ourselves. We can lead by living into the purpose for which we brought forth to this world. The world needs us-our voices, talent, art. We are medicine. We are magic. And when we shrink and fade into the background we deprive the world of that.
Leadership is about caring beyond what affects me directly. It is about intersectionality between race, gender, class, religion, sexual orientation and other identities. We may have privilege in some arenas and be at a disadvantage in others. In spaces where I can leverage privilege to the benefit of others, it is an opportunity to lead towards social justice.
Leadership is also having the vulnerability not to have all the answers. It’s challenging to look a client, a student, a colleague in the eye and not be able to reassure them that everything will be ok but what I can offer is being present with them in struggle. Leadership is empathy in an unempathetic world; compassion in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. Leadership is marching knowing that others paved the way for you and that others will follow in your footsteps.