How can leaders truly be prepared to guide on the subject of social justice and equity?

Dr. and historian Kathleen M. Brown breaks down how leaders should prepare themselves in her article on this subject. Through combining Adult Learning Theory, Transformative Learning Theory, and Critical Social Theory, Dr. Brown asserts that this method can transcend the ‘lip-service’ leaders may accidentally fall into if they are not prepared enough to speak on the issues of social justice and equity.

So, what are all of these theories Dr. Brown proposes as necessary to speak and lead on diversity? Luckily enough, Dr. Brown has compiled research from world experts on all of the above theories and intertwines them expertly to help individuals prepare for leading in this field.

Adult Learning Theory is a self-directed learning process where one focuses on learning agility. Being able to learn in a range of situations and styles. In these various learning environments, one practices thinking contextually and critically.

Transformative Learning Theory is how people see themselves and their environment. Understanding how one’s self-agency, or self-centeredness can shape their view of the world and others. Transformation learning works to break down an individual’s subconscious perception that their worldview is the status quo.

Critical Social Theory is focusing on a practical and theoretical approach of how we educate ourselves and others. Rather than thinking objectively about humans, it is acknowledging the subjective nature of humankind, with a focus on the creation of equitable living standards. Dr. Brown emphasizes that this theory focuses on challenging learners to be aware of their internalized biases and preconceived notions.

With the theories being summarized, Dr. Brown emphasizes how having professional development in diversity is paramount in being able to lead on the subject. Dr. Brown adds that learning beyond a cognitive level, by means of skill development, cultural autobiographies, prejudice reduction workshops, and other similar means is critical to a leader being prepared.

What does this mean for leaders? It is crucial to be aware of one’s own environment and history. These things can impact the way one perceives the world and those around them. A good place to start is with what Dr. Brown refers to as rational discourse. This is where individuals are committed to extended and repeated conversations that allow for them to carefully, and empathetically listen to new perspectives. As coaches, working to understand the theories that promote breaking down past knowledge in return for diverse perspectives can pay dividends in a practice rooted in social justice and equity.

IOC's Tips of the Week are authored by Austin Matzelle