Stuck on Leadership: Reminders for Myself

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to participate in a conversation around teacher leadership. Our hope was to define and explore the many facets as we move in to a new learning opportunity on just that topic. I had left thinking I would blog that night. The conversation was so rich from servant leadership to the leader as artist then on to management versus leadership. So I was a bit perplexed when I sat down to write and nothing came. Maybe it was just too big of an idea to capture in one post.

Last night as we were chatting after hours I realized perhaps I needed to take a different approach. What if I looked to the leaders I admire and reflect on what I would hope to emulate. What were the reminders for myself I needed to have front and centre moving forward?  (This is a good time to sneak in I think we all  have the opportunity to lead and be led whether it is in your job description or not).

So here we go.

Dear self, please remember…

  • To walk the talk I have to remember that this does not necessarily mean being the expert but rather leading by example. If I want to see honesty, I have to model honesty. If I want to inspire risk taking, then I need to take risks myself. I remember watching a leader take that one step of trying something new in front of us all. It wasn’t the flashiest, newest tech, but the impact that moment of risk taking had was immense. That one simple act gave me the go ahead to take risks as well.
  • LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN  It’s so easy to get carried away looking immediately for something smart to say or a way to help. I need to remember to truly listen, no judgement. I’m lucky to have amazing leaders/mentors that take the time to listen both in person and virtually. There is something powerful in the simple act of someone who doesn’t have to listen to you, taking the time to do so. The best listeners though are those that hear what isn’t said. They know you well enough to read what lies beneath it all. A skill I need to work on.
  • Build relationships & then push We often speak of relationships. Listening really helps here to build trust and care (and homemade shortbread cookies of course). I’m lucky to have a lot of great cheerleaders in my life but have come to realize we also need that coach that pushes us to be more, to try something new, to think of something from a new perspective. Without the relationship it seems like criticism. With a caring relationship I know it is meant to help me grow.  I may be writing this blog post because I got a gentle push last night. 
  • Self regulate like a Kindergartner. We often equate self-regulation with Kindergarten but oh how we need it as adults. I know this is where I fall short. It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness, the busy work, the system and blame others for the place we are in. I have a bad habit of getting lost in the work, consumed by a project to the point that I can’t find a path out. What’s worse is I know what can balance it all out again whether playing with some Kindergartenersor catching a few minutes of fresh air. So why don’t I? I think sometimes it is ego thinking that I am needed, other times it is a fear that my passion for the project may be lessened if I take that moment of pause. Overall I am slowly starting to realize (only took 30+ years) that those moments of balance make all of it possible.

What are your reminders for yourself whether leading 8 year olds or administrators?