The leader began every conversation with the words, "What can I do for you?" and typically her constituents were comfortable with open, honest conversation as they expressed needs as small as desiring to order pencils to as great as looking for help with a child's complex challenge.
The leader kept a running list of the groups within her charge, and made sure to update those groups regularly with news, opportunities, questions, and an invitation to converse and work together. She was interested in every group's strengths, ideas, creativity, talents, and needs. People looked forward to her visits, consult, and leadership.
It wasn't perfect, but the open dialogue alerted her to needs her constituents were experiencing, needs that required discussion and potential change. For example, some expressed the fact that the assessment tests were too long taking students up to three one-hour periods sometimes to complete. Others mentioned that there were so many tests, that there wasn't enough time to teach so children were feeling discouraged, and some children were not doing well on those tests. Still more complained that the curriculum expectations equaled far more than a year, and educators rarely had a chance to speak up about the curriculum by sharing ideas, suggesting change, and using their years of knowledge and expertise.
This wise and caring leader listened to the educators with care, and worked with them inclusively and transparently to make good change. She understood that every educator had a somewhat different job since every educator's group of students presented a unique profile and a different set of challenges. She kept all teachers in the loop of data collection/reports and curriculum meetings so there were no secrets leading to wonderful information share A strong sense of team existed, the kind of team that welcomed discussion even if that discussion turned to debate, problem solving, and critique as this leader knew that sometimes to do better meant talking about what wasn't working.
Further, on leadership teams, she continually stood up for respectful conversation, servant leadership, and a sense of team for all stakeholders, not a clique for a few. She knew that her role as a leader didn't put her above those she served, but instead placed her right next to the people she led with a spirit of how can we work together to get the best possible results in realistic, uplifting ways.
The leader continued to be a lifelong learner. She attended professional events near and far and made sure to bring a number of her constituents with her each time so they could learn together and share that information regularly. She knew that strong teams are knowledgeable teams. To this leader, she never lost sight of the fact that her constituents were people who cared and people who had their own needs and stories too. She was truly a leader who valued these wise words by Rev. Sekou who said that "We must work at crafting spaces for people to remember they are human." This leader steered clear of expectations thrust upon her that had little positive worth or impact on her constituents, and instead put her energy into energizing and supporting the team in ways that mattered.
Good leaders like this one matter in organizations great and small--the better we can learn to lead one another with respect and dignity, the more we'll be able to create creative communities of care and strength. Onward.