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Sunday, July 12, 2015

As an Educator, How do you Lead?

Leaders don't know it all. In fact, no one knows it all.

To lead well, does not mean that you have to know it all. Yet, to lead well, it's often best to be seasoned, experienced, open minded, goal oriented, willing to learn, and ready to serve.

As educators we are leaders of future leaders. That means we have to embrace and utilize the habits and attitude of good leadership as well as teach the attributes and mindset of leadership to our young children. We are all leaders in our lives in the broad sense of the term, yet only some of us will lead with regard to the more common definition of leadership: the action of leading a group of people or an organization.

As I think of leadership this morning, I am thinking of the mentors I've had in this regard--the leaders that have led me forward with confidence and positivity throughout my life; the people who inspired me and led me forward?

I cannot name one leader, but I can think of many who have, at times, taken the time to lead me forward with their example, words, challenge, and response.

The best leadership I've experienced came from individuals who were willing to sit down and have a heartfelt talk with me about an important issue and decision. These leaders were willing to discuss the tough issues of life with empathy, compassion, and truth. Their vision, during these conversations, was both near sighted and far reaching. Their investment was about my forward movement or the movement of the team, not just their own pursuit or aim. These leaders checked back in too with words such as, How is it going; have you made progress; and can I continue to help in any way?

Other examples of good leadership have included the leadership by example, the people I've known and watched who exemplify tremendous skill at working with others and leading organizations, teams, and individuals. To watch these individuals is to be led well.

I read about leaders too. I read their first-hand words and comments. I listen to their blog posts and consider their experiences. This is a way to be led as well.

We are all leaders in our lives, and the way we act, use words, risk, and reach out determine the strength and value of our leadership. And, when we take this seriously, we create a situation where many are led well to good work and strong community. Some of my favorite bloggers, Lolly Daskal, Dan Rockwell, Seth Godin, and Greg Richardson, provide insight and inspiration regularly about leadership. I look forward to their words and example.

As an educator, parent, and colleague, I want to develop my leadership skills in the days ahead. As part of the 2015-2016 Teacher Leadership Initiative cohort and a member of a dynamic school team, I will have the opportunity to grow these skills in order to benefit my students with example and leadership education.

As I develop these skills, I will pay close attention to the following attributes of leadership:

Leader as Learner
I will never know it all, but by working with a team of caring educators, I can learn.

I am a veteran educator. I've seen a lot. I've made my fair share of mistakes. I have a long view when it comes to teaching and learning.

Open Mind
We can always get better and do things with greater strength. I have an open mind to developing skill and teaching well. I also recognize that there are many who bring wonderful intelligence, experience, vision, and strength to our organizations, and it is wise to listen to their words, watch their action, and follow their lead with care.

Service to Others
The bottom line of good leadership is to serve others so that they are able to do their best work and live good lives.

Peaceful and Positive
As a long-time critical thinker and one who has been working hard to rise above some of the prejudice has been apart of my life as a woman, wage-earner, and other factors, I'm moving past the frustration and fight to a place of recognizing that challenges occur to all of us and it is in our peaceful, positive, collaborative, and proactive attitude and effort that good change and forward movement occurs.

We can not do all or be all, but we can commit to a few areas of life and give those areas our best time, care, and energy. What are the areas you are committed to as a leader and/or team member?

Leadership is an important part of our lives as educators. Those who lead us matter; and how we co-lead our young students with our colleagues matters too.

I look forward to continued consideration of this topic, and I welcome your insights and ideas.