I used to think…
In my former position as a school leader in Ontario I would often reach out to the members of our local community to gain a deeper understanding of the students and families in our school community. This was not necessarily in service to the community but more of a way to gain insight into the needs of the community. This was an effort to better understand their experience and perspectives and to find ways to serve them.
I am learning…..
Service and/or social action can be a powerful way to learn about the culture of a community and build leadership cultural intelligence. In my EdD study I asked participants to examine strategies they use as leaders to develop cultural intelligence in an international context.
One of my participants spoke of the importance service or social action as a means to developing leadership cultural intelligence. They said “It seems to me that authentic service demands for a deep understanding of all of the actors’ cultural framework. Without such understanding the results will not be sustainable and will fall with time or lead to division. This complexity of service has taught me the importance of really understanding the value system embedded in the national culture. I am still learning, one meeting at a time, one crisis at a time and one victory at a time.”
Another participant reflected that this act of embedding ourselves in service to a new community signals our desire to authentically learn about the culture and build strong relationships based on trust. This also provides opportunities to teach others about our cultural framework and values creating a reciprocal and symbiotic relationship.
What might this look like for you?
What could you uncover about your new culture through social action or service?
How might you find authentic opportunities to serve your new community outside of the school?
What are you learning?