I was recently asked to write my philosophy of leadership. Wait, what??? Now, trust me. I could talk your ear off, endlessly, ad nauseam, if you asked me questions like, "What do good school leaders do?" or "What have some of the best school leaders you've seen done to prove they were 'worthy'?" or whatever.
But add that word "philosophy", and now I feel pressure to tell you EVERYTHING! And nobody has time for my "everything".
This clearly is not everything, but it embodies the main pieces.
I'd love to hear your additions, thoughts, etc.
Blessings abound when I think about my experiences with leadership. And so the floodgates have opened. Here are my beliefs, supported by my own experiences as a school leader, professor, and presenter for continued professional learning on this exact topic. Oh! And I might have a fairly unique glimpse on what teachers believe about the effective actions, behaviors, and characteristics of school leaders, as this was my focus for my dissertation. You might say this entire “leadership philosophy” is my passion. Above all, I believe leaders should be passionate about continued learning forever.
First of all, from my dissertation, I learned that teachers said that effective school leaders communicate effectively with their stakeholders, show honesty and integrity no matter what, and show support and caring for their employees. I actually have qualitative data (anecdotal comments) from teachers who said, “I just want my school leader to be honest with me, but it would be nice if they could be respectful when they do it”. Maybe not surprisingly, at least five people wrote versions of the statement, “I just want to not be thrown under the bus during parent/teacher/principal conferences”. Others touted the importance of their leaders showing they cared about the employee as a person, asking about their personal lives in an authentic manner.
But I’ve also been blessed to have my own experiences as a mentor for other school leaders when I, myself, was a principal and to do the same for other professors in my role as a professor. I believe true leaders use the word “we” a great deal than the word “I”. Effective school leaders know they can’t run an organization on their own, so they surround themselves with people with multi-faceted skill sets. Good leaders know everyone’s name but, even more than that, care about what each person brings to the table. In short, leaders who are most successful are in the business of garnering consensus, dealing with inevitably arising conflict, and keeping the main thing the main thing. Or, as Stephen Covey said, good leaders “begin with the end in mind.” We have to keep our eye on the prize---whatever the goal of the organization, every effort should view everything through the lens of that goal.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly for me, I believe the building of relationships is the ultimate key to the success of a leader. If people know you care about them and the work they do, they will continue to be motivated to be passionate in their own efforts. Inevitably, the leader is building capacity for leaders to arise among the masses.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” - John Quincy Adams
What do you think about the good leaders for whom you have worked?