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Educational Research for Social Change

versão On-line ISSN 2221-4070


SATHORAR, Heloise et al. Leading for Sustainability and Empowerment: Reflecting on the Power of Collaboration and Humanising Pedagogy. Educ. res. soc. change [online]. 2023, vol.12, n.2, pp.78-95. ISSN 2221-4070.

The Covid-19 pandemic caused great distress in the higher education sector, globally. Higher education institutions had to adapt from presenting in-person classes to online remote learning, bringing with this several challenges of increased workloads, feelings of loss, grief, and being overwhelmed for both students and academic staff. Leading in times of crisis is not easy. It is even more difficult for women leaders who must deal with the historical impact of gender inequality in the workplace as well as the stereotypical views of the role of women. In this paper, five women academics who also hold leadership positions in the faculty of education at Nelson Mandela University reflect on their experience of leading their respective teams through the Covid-19 pandemic. Researchers have postulated that women in strategic leadership positions would better understand work policy obstacles owing to their knowledge of such barriers, as well as advancing the educational outcomes for all stakeholders in higher education. As women in leadership, we reflect on how collaboration assisted us to empower each other as well as our respective teams. The characteristics of democratic leadership guided this inquest. A critical paradigm and humanising pedagogy principles were used to frame the study, which enabled us to draw on our lived experiences and to engage in dialogue in order to make sense of the process of empowerment for sustainability. We engaged in collaborative self-study and used narrative freewriting to generate data. In addition, use was made of a thematic analysis to reduce the data and identify common themes. The findings of the study question whether current leadership practices contribute to equality in the workplace, support collaboration, and encourage self-care and empowerment. The study proposes a humanising leadership model to enhance leadership practices.

Palavras-chave : democratic leadership; humanising pedagogy; collaboration; critical theory.

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