What silence can teach us about race and leadership
AuthorSpiller, C; Evans, M; Schuyler, KG; Watson, LW
University of Melbourne Author/sEvans, Michelle
AffiliationManagement and Marketing
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsSpiller, C., Evans, M., Schuyler, K. G. & Watson, L. W. (2021). What silence can teach us about race and leadership. Leadership, Forthcoming (1), pp.81-98. https://doi.org/10.1177/1742715020976003.
Access StatusOpen Access
Silence is laden when it comes to race and leadership. We believe it is critical to reclaim the kind of silence that supports conscious transformation. Our contribution in this endeavor is twofold. Firstly, we distinguish between fear-based silence and sacred silence. Fear-based silence can be a running away from discomfort, a covering up of trepidation and anxiety. It can lead to collective amnesia and willful ignorance, a hoarding of status, privilege, and power, and forge deep divides between people. This is the world of masks and performativity, and at its worst harbors prejudice, hate, and destruction. Leadership tolerant of fear-based silence permits a festering of racism. Sacred silence by contrast heals and raises consciousness. For the kind of leadership required to consistently and indefatigably push for change and disruption to racism, we need a practice of sacred silence. Sacred silence cultivates the courage to look fearlessly within personal shadows and bravely at what is required to make the world a safe, secure, and just place for all. Secondly, we present four themes that emerged from our reflexive inquiry into race, leadership, and silence: listening dialogue, returning to Mother Earth wisdom, honoring potential, and practicing mindfulness in a context of collective wisdom.
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