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NASPA Leadership Podcast, hosted by Myles Surrett
Episode 25:  Cultivating Critical Perspectives Part 3: Counter-Narratives

The “heart and soul” of John Dugan’s new book, Leadership Theory: Cultivating Critical Perspectives, is the counter-narratives found at the end of each chapter. Illustrating leadership research and theories in real life, the counter-narratives serve to amplify voices and stories that are often left at the margins.

Myles states that the counter-narratives are one of the many things that make this book worthwhile and “more than just a textbook.” In this podcast, Myles is joined by John Dugan and three counter-narrative authors: Mary Morten, President of the Morten Group, Art Johnston, Co-Founder of Equality Illinois and owner of Sidetrack Bar, and Georgianna Tores Reyes, Assistant Vice President for Mission and Values at DePaul University.

The guests identify key lessons they have learned through their experiences in social justice activism. Mary focuses on the importance of relationship building, connecting with communities in a deep and meaningful way. “You need to bring people to the issues and make it personal to them.”

According to Art, the most important thing he has learned is that you can never rely on someone else to do something for you. He emphasizes the critical step of showing up. “I went somewhere when something was going on and I got involved.” The next step is to make a commitment, volunteer to do something and then “do a damn good job at it” to develop a reputation as someone who makes and keeps commitments.

Georgianna provides insight into whether leadership is working. “If I find myself alone, that tells me a lot… There were others who were left out.” The successes of those we intend to serve, rather than our personal success, demonstrate effectiveness in our work for change. “Power, when shared, creates more power.”

Dugan summarizes some of the overarching themes: you cannot pretend that power doesn’t exist and that people will do the right thing. This reinforces student perspectives of what they are not learning in the traditional leadership classroom –  relationship building and power.

To hear the guests’ advice for aspiring leaders, how their views of leadership have changed over time, and the role of counter-narratives in disrupting the story most often told in a leadership context, tune in to the NASPA Student Leadership Programs podcasts, hosted by Myles Surrett, at iTunes or SoundCloud.