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Creating Inclusive School Cultures Part II: Leaving Your Comfort Zone

Welcome back to our inclusion series!

I hope you had an opportunity to engage in our critical self-reflection activity [1]. If you haven’t, I encourage you to do so before reading on, as those initial insights are essential to our next steps. Through the previous exercise, you made connections to your Emergenetics® Thinking and Behavioral preferences and how they might:

Some of these realizations about our mental models can be inspiring and affirming while others can be surprising as we recognize some of the assumptions we hold. All of which is a good thing!

While it may not always be comfortable to deconstruct the ways our tendencies impact how we see ourselves and others, it is essential to inclusion. So, I congratulate you on taking these first steps to leaving your comfort zone. After all, getting scratchy is what leadership is all about.

It is not a best practice to operate solely on our natural inclinations, so leaders need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. In an inclusive environment, individuals honor the approaches and experiences of others. That is only possible when we first recognize where our own perceptions stem from and second embrace the discomfort that might come with seeing things from a different perspective as well as choosing to operate in a new way.

As you seek to build a school culture that is truly inclusive, I invite you to get a greater understanding of what actions come naturally to you by considering how Emergenetics preferences show up in your leadership practices.

Ten Considerations to Outline the Boundaries of Your Comfort Zone

To recognize how your preferences impact your leadership and begin to identify how you can interact in a way that is more inclusive of others, I invite you to think back to the last time you had to deliver important news to staff, students or parents. Consider what you said, the specific information you shared and the way you presented it.

Now, explore the following statements and make note of which ones best align to your innate approach and which statements feel most distant from your style.

After you have tallied which styles feel most comfortable and least comfortable, I invite you to see if your responses align with your preferences for the seven Emergenetics Thinking and Behavioral Attributes. I would venture to guess that they do.

When it comes to leadership, it’s important to remember that while you may have an affinity toward a certain strategy, all are valid. By recognizing the actions that take you outside of your comfort zone, you can identify areas of growth and changes you can make to support the diverse needs of your stakeholders.

At Emergenetics, we use the term flexing to describe that process. Imagine a muscle at rest and a muscle that is tightening. The muscle is moving from a state of comfort to a state of discomfort. While it takes effort, the benefit of flexing in the physical sense is that you are building up strength.

The same is true with flexing in leadership. By choosing to embrace the challenge of speaking to the preferences of others, you support your personal growth and demonstrate that you care about the experiences of your school community. When you start to communicate and collaborate in a way that connects more broadly, your staff, students and parents are more likely feel seen, included and respected.

As you prepare to flex in your work, I encourage you to reflect on three additional questions based on your newfound understanding of your leadership inclinations as well as your attitudes and assumptions:

The insights you gain from this exercise will help prepare you for parts three and four of our series where you will learn how to take your findings from your self-reflection and redefine your approach to inclusive leadership. Stay tuned!

Want to get started using our STEP programming to support inclusion in your school? Learn about our education programs [2] or fill out the form below to speak with one of our team members today!