We have all worked with and for different types of leaders. Leaders that inspire, leaders that frustrate, and leaders that we have forgotten because they were just there. Sometimes, the word leader is a stretch because people have assumed that moniker by title alone and not actions. Every leader wants to be that person who inspires others to be their best, has data that shows your school is improving in multiple categories, and always does what is best for our most valuable stakeholder- our students. How do you achieve this?
You believe in the power of we vs. the power of me- you listen, you communicate with staff and stakeholders (in person first, other outlets when needed), you share the Why of what you are doing, and you are present (office door open, in hallways/classrooms, and are at school functions). I believe in servant and collaborative leadership. Yes, we all need to make final decisions, but you do that after talking and listening with others. We do not expect our staff to work in Silos and not collaborate; why should leadership be any different?
You have a vision- why would any leader want to go to a new school and maintain the status quo? Yes, change does not happen overnight, but change can be good (see above about Why). All schools can improve and get better. It’s valuable to talk with staff and community to see where improvements need to occur and how can you shape this into your vision. We all have Big Rocks as leaders (form relationships daily, student achievement, innovative practices and risk-taking, extra-curricular activities/programs, and telling your story to promote your school) but it’s important to listen to what your stakeholders value as well.
You challenge the status quo and are not happy with “just maintaining”-To prepare our students for the future job force, we cannot continue to teach like it’s 1997. Students cannot consume information and regurgitate the information back to us. Students need to create, collaborate, analyze, discuss, justify, and yes fail forward in order to learn. This is a shift in thinking; how you communicate this with staff and stakeholders is crucial. People want to feel a part of the conversation, not talked out. If you have no vision of what you want your school to look like, you just manage the day-to-day operations in your office, and you are not visible and present in your building, then our students are one more year behind in acquiring the skills they will need in a global workforce.
I’ve been fortunate to work with great leaders (James Aleshire and Mike Chilcutt) who have vision and know how they want to achieve it. I also encourage everyone to grow your own leadership through your PLN. My leadership growth has coincided by not only working with great leaders but by growing on Twitter. You cannot grow solely based on what is going on in your building or just your county. You have to interact and learn from other great leaders. I cannot speak highly enough of Twitter and the leaders who have helped shape my growth (Eric Sheninger , George Couros , Justin Tarte , Brad Currie , and Bill Powers to name a few). Be the leader, and not just manager, that our schools and students deserve.