I am lucky enough to be a leader in a forward-thinking and supportive school. Not only that, I am lucky enough to have a team of inspirational digital learning leaders and innovation staff to lead. Our goal as a team is to engage students, staff, and families in digital learning experiences that make a difference and add value to student learning every day (check out our digital learning story via the hashtag #SAISrocks)
Over the past few years, I have learned a lot about leadership. Not only from mentors but from being on the job (and of course a lot of mistakes along the way). I always wonder how my experience resonates with others so today I wanted to share my learning and see how much of it resonates with you.
Here is a list of the top 10 things I have learned as a leader:
- Learning is just as important as leading – I am an eternal learner and being a leader should not change that. If I expect my team to learn something new, I try to be there learning alongside them. Every day I learn and most of the time it is self-paced and self-driven learning online, a lot of which comes from Twitter. As a leader, I believe it is critical you are not only seen to be an active learner, but you are there to support others along the way.
- Relationships matter – I am a people person. I love working in education as it allows me to interact with like-minded professionals every day. It is critical as a leader to earn the trust of your team and develop positive working relationships that thrive. Relationships where trust is at the core. Relationships that last no matter what the challenge. Get to know others, not only as team members but as people. Time spent here goes a long way later.
- Asking meaningful questions is a great way to dig deeper – Question asking is a personal interest area of mine. Too often, I see leaders directing and demanding things of their team. Sometimes this is important but often, empowerment and self-motivation can be driven by a simple question. Leaders who have a great question asking technique in their toolkit are more powerful than those without. It is important for leaders to understand how powerful question asking can be.
- It is ok to be wrong – For too long it has been expected that teachers always have to be right. NO MORE! Luckily for us, we are human and can’t be right ALL the time (sometimes we have to remind people of that). One of the things I do to actively promote this point us openly tell people when I am wrong. Be the bigger person, tell students and colleagues when you are wrong – you won’t lost face, I promise!
- It is ok to make mistakes – Like number 4, I am a huge believer in actively making mistakes and sharing them. I see mistakes as the first attempt in learning (FAIL). I tell students, staff, and parents this – it becomes a piece of your school culture. This is my evidence of learning a lot of times – I can’t think of many things I have done that were perfect on the first iteration.
- People don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it – I LOVE learning from leaders in their field and Simon Sinek is one of them. He says “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” and this is a statement I keep in the forefront of my mind when working with others. Know your why and use the why to drive learning. If you do this well it empowers others to get involved and you have the momentum to make a successful change.
- Not all leaders make great decisions – I have learned from others mistakes and my own mistakes. Decision making should involve all stakeholders as much as possible – sometimes as a leader, you have to make a tough call and stick to it. If this happens, be prepared to answer the tough questions. Empower other leaders to do what is right for student learning.
- Sometimes you are stuck between a rock and hard place – We all know what this feels like. The reality of being in a leadership role is that you often have to enforce changes from others above you that you might not necessarily agree with. Your role as a leader is to do your best and make the right decisions, informing your team and involving them at every step of the way.
- The grass is always greener on the other side – It is funny to hear other people’s perceptions of leadership – they (I include myself here as I am guilty of this too) believe that leaders have it easy. People’s perceptions of you as a leader are important to be aware of – perception is reality!
- Optimism and positivity for the win – As an eternal optimist I want others to be positive and believe in good. As a leader, it is your job to instill positivity and optimism in others. To make a change, you need people to believe in it. Get out there and make a difference today!