As I grew up, I started to feel really bad about being called “bossy”. And, in elementary school I became very quiet, shy and unsure of myself. (Those of you who know me now are most certainly surprised to hear of this shy phase.) Looking back now, I know that being referred to as “bossy” made me feel unsure of myself. I didn’t want to be a “boss”. And, I certainly didn’t want to be called “bossy,” but deep within me was a desire to be a leader.
My first microphone.
It wasn’t until high school that the leader in me began to be cultivated. It happened naturally as I played sports and was part of various organizations and teams. But, even as I began to embrace my desire to lead, I still felt like a “boss” and I really didn’t like that. As I continued through college and then on to my teaching career I began to study the leaders around me. I learned lesson from them. Surprisingly, some of the most important lessons I learned came from the least effective leaders. I learned what leadership wasn’t. Only then, could I really begin to hone my own leadership skills. A few years into my teaching career, I was blessed to work with many inspirational leaders in Hilliard City School. These leaders helped me reflect on my skills, gave me constructive feedback and most importantly believed that I could be an inspirational leader.
A few years ago, I was given the opportunity to lead an entire school! I didn’t think I was ready and it turns out we’re never really ready. I’m so glad that I accepted the challenge. It turns out that the best way to learn about leadership is to be one.
While, my journey to ELITE continues and my journey through leadership continues; I feel like I’m ready to share what leadership has taught me in hopes that all of the leaders who read this will share their leadership lessons with me:
- Leadership isn’t a title-Anyone can be a leader. It doesn’t matter what title you hold. Leaders are all around us. Leaders inspire, listen, create, cause others to grow, ask questions, and make positive change. Leadership isn’t imparted on us by our title; leadership is within us.
- Leaders lead for others-When you are a true leader you know that what you do is not for you. You don’t lead so that you can be praised, rewarded, or put in the spotlight. You lead so you can impact the lives of those around you.
- Leaders are vulnerable-Leadership is not about being right. True leaders share their worries, their weakness, and their fears. They have no problem asking for help and accepting help.
- Leaders fail-Leadership is about taking risks, failing and learning. When you lead with the goal of making a true impact you have to be willing to fail along the way. It’s what you do in the face of failure that defines you.
- Leaders develop new leaders-Leaders set conditions for others to take on leadership roles. Leaders seek out those people in their organization who possess leadership skills and they help those people grow as leaders themselves.
- Leaders make others uncomfortable-Leaders have a way of pushing others out of their comfort zones. Then, they walk alongside their team and celebrate the journey.
- Leaders have tough conversations-Leaders don’t permit behavior that does not align with their culture. Leaders will hold their team accountable and will expect their team to hold one another accountable as well.
- Leaders are a safety net-Leaders make sure that their team knows that when they take a risk, there is no need to fear failure. Leaders create a safety net; a safe place to land when things don’t work as planned.
- Leaders don’t need to be needed-As a leader our goal is to create such a strong culture and set of expectations that no one needs you. That’s right-leaders need to be able to be away from their teams and know that the journey will continue.
- Leaders are part of the team-Leadership is not a hierarchy. Instead, leaders must be part of the team. As a leader it is crucial that you walk the walk with your team. I would never ask my teachers to do something that I wouldn’t do myself. And I would never do something that my teachers couldn’t do. That’s why I rarely heat up my lunch and I eat it in about 2 minutes flat. If my teachers don’t sit down for an extended time to eat lunch, then neither will I!
- Leaders don’t accept the status quo-Leaders will never say “that’s the way we’ve always done it”. Instead, leaders will ask, “What next?” “What else?” “What now?”
What would you add to the list? I’d love to hear your leadership lessons.
Here is your staff update for April 21st.