LEADERSHIP AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Introduction

The purpose of this exercise is to help you reflect on your leadership experiences and what you believe about leadership. In other words, for you to explore links between events and people in your life and your personal theory of leadership. Leadership is simultaneously a personal and social experience. While we construct our own identities and perspectives, this is never in isolation. We are constantly embedded in society and culture, and one’s beliefs and values are heavily influenced by one’s socio-cultural surroundings.

This assignment involves three parts:

  1. The construction of a broad ‘Road Map’ of influential experiences
  2. Creating narrative descriptions of selected experiences
  3. A synthesis and reflection that ties together your experiences, your sociocultural contexts, and your theory of leadership

Part 1: The road map (one-page, loosely mapped)

Begin by designing a basic ‘Road Map’ — a life timeline — that illustrates your most significant prior leadership experiences, including the individuals and institutions that have most shaped your development. Start with the earliest events and/or people that you can recall, then map out your years as a leader in and outside of school. Keep in mind these experiences may be formal and informal, and they may also be instances in which you demonstrated leadership in a traditional sense, or when you failed as a leader and learned something significant.

The format of this map can be whatever is easiest for you as a student. You can physically draw this map, take a picture, and embed it into a word document, or you may also type an outline. The format doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you use this to create a “30,000 foot” view of your experiences as a leader (or your experiences with leaders) that have influenced you.

Part 2: Narrative descriptions (~500-750 words total)

Identify 3 significant events from your Road Map and write rich, descriptive accounts of those events. For example, if you were influenced by a particular interaction, event, or moment – describe the context of the event, what happened, why was it so significant for you? Make sure to note aspects of the event that had an influence on your life and your views about leadership today.

Part 3: Critical reflection & synthesis (~500-750 words total)

Reflect on those 3 events and your larger Road Map write an overarching reflection how your present beliefs about and practices as a leader are rooted in the experiences that you have identified. Here’s the critical part. In looking at your background, pay specific attention to the various sociocultural lenses you wear as you encounter organizations, institutions, and situations of leadership, as well as the sociocultural positions of others interacted with in those leadership situations. Consider how your thoughts, your actions, and your decisions in those situations are embedded in socio-cultural beliefs and narratives. Consider how your beliefs influenced your choices and your interactions with others. Ask yourself, for example, if your gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, ethnicity, and/or social class somehow influenced how you were involved in a specific leadership experience.

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