Inclusive Leadership Development Through Participatory Inquiry

Cultivating Cultural Humility

Authored by: Ester R. Shapiro , Tariana V. Little

The Routledge Companion to Inclusive Leadership

Print publication date:  April  2020
Online publication date:  March  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367265670
eBook ISBN: 9780429294396
Adobe ISBN:


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Advancing inclusive leadership development requires training towards recognizing multisystemic complexity of co-evolving individuals, organizations and communities while collaborating towards equity with effectiveness across generations and settings. This chapter offers transdisciplinary synthesis of critical cultural, organizational and developmental complex systems perspectives with emancipatory education, highlighting participatory inquiry as advancing systems mindsets and communication skills fostering critical reflexivity, through dialogues promoting cultural humility. Building on cultural competence, cultural humility cultivates practice-based knowledge gained through lived experiences of societal inequalities and compassionate, comparative readings of power, overcoming blind spots while building trust-based partnerships establishing shared goals, evaluating progress and demanding accountability. We illustrate with examples from two inclusive leadership development programs at an urban public university, both incorporating community-engaged collaborative research. The Emerging Leaders Program selects mid-level professionals from underrepresented groups, and the Latino Leadership Opportunity Program selects undergraduate Latinx and other students committed to serving these communities. Developing awareness of societal power inequalities as dynamic, site-specific, multi-systemically entangled, deeply internalized, resistant to change, yet transformable through collaborative learning towards achieving shared goals allows us to mobilize diverse perspectives as assets in our organizational work enhancing social justice.

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