How does self-awareness about one's privileges contribute to more effective and ethical leadership?

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Self-awareness about your privileges contributes to more effective and ethical leadership because it can lead to the recognition that the leader can lift the voices of minoritized groups.

In Is Everyone Really Equal?, the authors provide a general example of group dynamics. If a minority member points out the lack of diversity, the majority members might get defensive and feel attacked. Ideally, the privileged should understand that their defensiveness “is an indication of a dominant worldview.” Thus, instead of denying their privilege or arguing with the minority member, a privileged person can accept the contribution and support the minority voice.

The authors of the textbook discuss privileged group members who “play it safe and don’t use their position to support the person who raised the issue.” Such a move is not an example of effective, ethical leadership because it perpetuates the antagonist climate and doubles down on the privileged group’s refusal to confront their advantages. The ethical and effective leader welcomes the voices of minority members and doesn’t view their feedback as an attack but as a way to deconstruct the good/bad binary, increase awareness, and demonstrate that building a better team is an ongoing, dynamic process.

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