We know that education doesn’t only happen in classrooms. When you learn new information that shapes or reshapes your way of thinking, you could be in any number of places, like on a bus or train, out on a walk or run, or in your kitchen cooking dinner. How and where we consume knowledge or life lessons that stick with us are not confined to a single format or space. A new endeavor into a co-hosted podcast has taken our expansive approach to learning and paired it with a desire to make prominent, diverse leaders accessible to anyone.
This podcast, Just Leading, is a result of our Executive Director, Ilana Kaufman, wanting to partner with Gali Cooks of Leading Edge and Elana Wien of SRE Network to highlight new forms of leadership. Each co-host brings their own personal experiences of resisting the norms of leadership. Having sometimes struggled to find their own role models who reflected their particular experiences, each co-host knows the importance of being able to look up to someone in whom you can see yourself. However, role models who don’t fit traditional expectations of leadership rarely get the spotlight. Kaufman, Cooks, and Wien decided to create a podcast that not only shone light on such leaders but made their unique viewpoints the center of the conversation.
Kaufman is excited that this podcast has created an opportunity to reframe how we view leaders and leadership. “Our idea when we started this project was to do two things,” Kaufman said. “First, we wanted to let diverse leaders and leaders-to-be know that they are not alone and that there are people who look like them or have stories like theirs who make a huge impact; second, to show everyone that there are so many different ways to lead. Maybe that can transform how our community conceptualizes leadership or who a leader is.”
Kaufman said creating new models is particularly important when racism, sexism, and other forms of inequality have played such a strong role in defining what successful leadership is and looks like. “A leader doesn’t have to fit into a certain mold. And leadership doesn’t have to mean checking your identity, your history, or your family at the door. It’s when we’re able to bring our full selves to our work that we thrive as leaders.”
But Kaufman, Cooks, and Wien are not only talking about how to bring one’s full self to their leadership role; the three co-hosts are actively engaging in and demonstrating authentic leadership by working collaboratively and having honest conversations about justice-informed leadership approaches.
“Working with Gali [Cooks] and Elana [Wien] on Just Leading has been a learning journey in so many ways,” said Kaufman. “The three of us and the leaders we host are learning to openly and publicly discuss how our leadership styles and approaches are an expression of our professional training and our lived experiences. As we’re doing that collective learning—how to always be authentic and excellent—we are thinking about how this work might land on, or resonate with, our audience. It’s a teaching and learning moment to demonstrate that we can change and elevate the leadership conversation and be taken seriously as leaders.”
You can listen to the podcast Just Leading on Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.