Identity and Leadership

Identity manifests in the way we lead, supervise, make decisions, persuade, form relationships, and negotiate responsibilities each day. Student affairs professionals, who are often at the center of transformative efforts for social justice, diversity, and educational equity on college and university campuses, must understand how their own identities impact the way they interpret, work with, and lead across differences. This book offers experienced and emerging leaders a window into understanding the deep intersections of identity and professional practice as well as guideposts for individual leadership development. Through personal narratives, the contributing authors discuss the significant impact of their identities in terms of race, ethnicity, culture, sexuality, gender, socioeconomic class, nationality, disability, spirituality, and religion on their roles as higher education leaders. A model of identity, leadership, and social justice with ways of being and doing is provided and illustrated through the author narratives. The book shows how student affairs professionals can use autobiographical writing to better understand how personal identities influence interactions with students and colleagues. The book begins by introducing frameworks of identity and leadership, current research, theory, and why attention to intersections of identity and leadership is important for student affairs professionals. The second part features a collection of essays written by higher education leaders who examine how specific identities emerge in their leadership practice and how they strive to manage across differences authentically from within these identities. The book concludes with an Identity and Leadership Autobiography Assignment, which guides readers step-by-step through the process of reflecting on how their own identities and experiences impact their leadership practice. This assignment may also be used to facilitate self-reflection activities in group settings.