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Inclusive Leaders: In the Midst of COVID-19

The global outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has created significant challenges for academic leaders in the education profession. Amid this unprecedented crisis, leaders must make difficult decisions while simultaneously providing empathy and support to their faculty, staff, and students, who more than likely, are struggling to adjust to a “new normal.” Creating “cultures of belonging” (CoB) – a culture that accepts, values, and views strength in differences – centers around connecting and leveraging commonality among differences. In the midst of COVID-19, the need for CoBs becomes even more important, however, specific strategies are needed to navigate and circumvent the unique challenges created by COVID-19.

Cultural Connections by Design (CCBD) is sponsoring a FREE Inclusive Leaders: In the Midst of COVID-19 Masterclass on May 18th – May 23rd at 7PM (EDT). This six-day masterclass is designed for all academic leaders – public school principals, district leaders, department chairs, deans, committee chairs, faculty, etc. – who understand the importance of creating a CoB as a core tenant and value system within the institution so faculty, staff, and students can thrive in the midst of COVID-19.

We interviewed our founder & CEO, Dr. Nicole R. Robinson, to learn more:

What was your reason for developing the Inclusive Leaders: In the Midst of COVID-19 masterclass? 

I am so excited about this upcoming masterclass because I love working with academic leaders. They bring an electrifying synergy into the space and as educators themselves, they fully embrace the opportunity to learn new content to better serve their faculty, staff, and students. I enjoy guiding the transition from “academic leader” to “inclusive leader.”

Academic leaders have the positional power to implement organizational change. I think leaders do not always realize or embrace their ability to shift the cultural paradigm of their institution.  Organizational change begins with individual people; it does not begin as the organization itself. As the leader changes, the organizational culture changes incrementally.

With each incremental change in leadership, there is a ripple effect throughout the institution.

Academic leaders have the positional power to implement organizational change.

An inclusive leader works diligently to establish a CoB that assures everyone is treated respectfully and fairly, are valued and feel they belong. When an academic unit functions as a  CoB, faculty, staff, and students are inspired to bring the best version of themselves into the community. Inclusive leaders can leverage and harness these differences in a way that elevates the entire organization.

The process to build inclusive cultures requires time and energy; a leader’s two most precious commodities. Therefore, it is important to mobilize and short-circuit the pathway to success as quickly as possible and this is where guidance is needed. Inclusive leadership requires courage, strength, and bravery. Unfortunately, exercising these brave acts can result in feelings of anxiousness, loneliness, and isolation. COVID-19 has intensified the normal challenges in creating CoBs, and for many, the feelings of loneliness and isolation have deepened. Inclusive leaders need community. They need a strong support system. The Inclusive Leaders Masterclass: In the Midst of COVID-19 will establish a community for these leaders to find a soft place to land during the difficult times. 

Why does it seem so difficult to implement inclusive leadership practices into an organization? 

When we look at the big picture, academic leaders on all levels have experienced a tsunamic shift in their job responsibilities. Because this shift occurred at such a rapid pace, many leaders feel as though they are in a race against time. Academic leaders do not have the luxury of time because of the direct impact of educational inequalities on student achievement. While attempting to increase their own personal growth and cultural intelligence, they are responsible for shepherding their teams’ individual and collective cultural development for a successful CoB, while simultaneously reshaping policy and best practices to align with desired outcomes. As with anything, there are missteps along the way, which, unfortunately, may cause these leaders to be misjudged, misunderstood, and mischaracterized. 

Why is creating a culture of belonging even more important now amid COVID-19? 

Creating a CoB should be the desired goal of any leader, at any time. However, in the midst of COVID-19, CoB becomes even more vitally important. Unfortunately, we cannot wait until post-COVID-19 to begin to establish CoBs. Regardless of where the institution is on the spectrum of inclusivity, the results of COVID-19 will have long-reaching implications. For example, institutions that had already begun implementing a comprehensive diversity education process may be in jeopardy of losing gains they have made. An institution that has yet to start a diversity education process, the required long-term distancing of COVID-19 may create wider gaps to close. Additionally, any specific culture that currently “lives” in the institution (i.e., a fractured faculty, etc.) will only be intensified post-COVID-19. It is important to develop a strategic plan now that is specifically designed to circumvent the challenges of COVID-19.

Who should attend the Inclusive Leaders: In the midst of COVID-19 masterclass? 

The Inclusive Leaders: COVID-19 masterclass is for anyone who wants to be the best leader possible in the midst of one of the most difficult situations they will ever experience in their career. CCBD is ready to provide all-inclusive leaders with the support needed to navigate these unchartered territories.

How do I register to join the masterclass?

We have a very simple registration form on the Inclusive Leaders Masterclass landing page. You can also visit that link to learn more about the sessions and goals of the class!