Who is a leader? In our work with Elizabeth Payne, our strengths coach, we have learned: A leader might be defined as anyone who has responsibilities that impact others. Leaders support and serve. They read people. Leaders inspire others to follow them. They take risk. They care. They are driven by a purpose, yes/and they prioritize the greater good over individual needs.
So, what qualities make a leader effective? Effective leaders offer stability and have earned the trust of those whom they lead. Effective leaders show compassion. They also offer security and provide hope.
We know that high performing people feel safe in their working relationships and need that security to take risks. They need to be known and understood to be happy. We must be able to separate who a person is from what they do but also know that some of our work is a direct reflection of who we are.
To lead a division well, we try to start with wins, say thank you, and have fun when we are together. We use our strengths to contribute and ask for the strengths of others to round us out. We overcome obstacles together. We strive to set, express, and evaluate clear expectations.
Leadership is a journey, and each of us is the master of our own journey.
It would be interesting to know how many hours of lesson plans I have created since I took my first education class as a junior in college. Through college and graduate school I wrote many lessons and received feedback from my professors. After graduation I began teaching third grade. Planning every minute (and many extra minutes in case the students caught on more quickly than I anticipated) from the 7:30-3:15 school day for 18 little boys was much more challenging than my hypothetical plans in college, and the feedback was much more immediate. Little boys will quickly let you know if something is too boring or too hard. But they will also let you know when they are having fun or when they “get it” for the first time. And that feedback is why I teach!
Since moving into administration five years ago, though, I don’t plan as many lessons. I have had the opportunity to design lots of professional learning experiences and collaborate with teachers on their lesson plans. But it has been many years since I have designed my own class for kids. I am excited to plan this experience for 10 students. I want to design with the end in mind and develop essential questions that these students will wrestle with. I am going to spend this weekend planning the big idea of a Ted Talks for Kids PlayMaker Class. But I can’t wait to meet my class and find out what their goals are for signing up. I am interested to learn about their passions and let those direct my plans.
Below is the opening communication I will share.
Thanks for signing up for our PlayMaker Class! We are going to have a lot of fun this trimester.
f you can’t write a speech yet, do not worry. I bet you can write a list. If not a list, I bet you can write a word. If you have never given a speech before, get excited about the opportunities ahead. Wherever you are now, you are going to learn to say that word, list, or speech with power. Depending on what your goal is, we will create a plan and document progress along the way.
We will look for opportunities to share our final product with an audience. Hopefully this process will bring laughter because we will be silly. Yes, and after lots of practice we will entertain, inform, or inspire someone to make an impact.
We will act. We will memorize. We will write. We will practice, coach, and say thank you for the feedback. We will laugh. We will listen. We will take each communicator as far as he or she is ready to go.