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Definition of Socially Conscious Leadership

Definition of Socially Conscious Leadership

Take a moment to reflect by asking yourself the following series of questions: 

How do I engage with myself and with others on difficult school issues?
What is the first thing that I think about when there is an issue with a student, staff, or family?
How do I respond to the unique challenges?
When push comes to shove, what leadership mindsets do I immediately lean into?
Do I believe that I can positively or negatively move a school community by what I say, don't say, do, or don't do.
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The above questions will encourage leaders to begin the process of thinking about their lived experiences and how they show up in the world around them. Leadership is not easy. Leadership is not a formula. There are many competing priorities on a school campus and the day to day lived experience can spin a leader in 50 million directions. Leaders can easily get stuck in an unhealthy place of thinking. Beginning the journey to becoming a socially conscious leader requires leaders to practice pausing and reflecting. Without taking the moment to pause and reflect on thinking and decisions, lasting decisions can negatively impact students, staff, and the whole school community.  

Socially Conscious Leadership is action oriented and core leadership. Think about the core of an apple. First, visualize an apple. Then, think about what is inside of an apple. Within an apple, there are seeds. The seeds can reproduce fruit when planted, watered, nutrients, and monitoring. Socially Conscious Leadership must be at the core of everything that we do. To understand Socially Conscious Leadership, there are four key elements. Critical Self Awareness, Empathy, Relational Context, and Elevate Love and Disrupt Oppression.

Four Elements of Socially Conscious Leadership and Action-Oriented Indicators

Critical Self Awareness

A socially conscious leader engages in both “mirror” and “window” work, understanding the ongoing need to unravel unconsciously absorbed narratives about communities, and explore how these narratives unintentionally, yet systematically propel communities forward or hold back people. This leader takes a stance of curiosity, invests great effort in learning and unlearning personal perspectives, uses courage to vulnerably demonstrate the process for others to do the same, and accomplishes this without internal or external guilt or shame.

Empathy is a core value for a socially conscious leader. The empathetic leader sees and understands other perspectives and lived experiences and helps others to do the same. Likewise, this leader uses understanding from empathy (and not sympathy) to foster an environment where communities are able to advocate for their own needs and be a key partner in the process to counter marginalization.
Relational Context
A socially conscious leader is aware of the context and culture where discussions, projects, and decisions occur. The leader prioritizes the psychological safety of each member of a community and realizes when and how some people benefit and others are harmed by group dynamics. The leader responds to specific needs through a lens of diversity, inclusion, and belonging so that all feel equally empowered to engage.
Elevate Love and Disrupt Oppression
The socially conscious leader leads with love, cares for all people, aims to consistently surface and leverage the assets of the entire community, and relentlessly addresses issues of equity in the system. They identify who is being marginalized and center their needs in discussions, projects, and decisions. The leader builds individual and collective educators’ cultural and linguistic knowledge and understanding of the communities they serve.
Thumbnail image of San Diego COE Socially Conscious Leadership document
Click the Image Above To Download Examples & Non-Examples of Each Indicator
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