Whether you are a student or adult, the ability to lead is important in education, business, community service, military and in many other avenues. Over my 30+ years in education, I have been blessed to work with many outstanding leaders and have learned specific actions that effective leaders possess. I will never say that I possess these leadership qualities, I only say that I make every attempt to do so. Today, I share some of those leadership skills.
Leaders make decisions every day. Some of those decisions are long-term decisions and some are just “day-to-day” decisions. In any case, decisions happen due to data collection and research or based upon past practice. Decisions are also made based upon discussions with team players to make sure that the result is the best for all involved. However, there will be decisions made that are wrong. A great leader will admit the mistake, develop a plan to remedy the situation, and then move forward in a professional and resolved manner.
As a school administrator, I was never been able to stay in my office, conduct meetings, and then go home at the end of the day. I have always wanted to be in school buildings, visit classrooms, and attend student events. In my opinion, a great leader will be involved in all aspects of the organization. A leader should be visible to the members of the organization. In the education field, I had a better knowledge of the school district through conversations with teachers, support staff, and students. I can gain new insights from having conversations with members of the entire organization.
Additionally, a leader will also be involved with stakeholders. In education, the stakeholders are parents, business leaders, community organizations, post-secondary education and government leaders. I truly believe that it is important to be involved with these groups and invite them to be involved in the school district. In any leadership role, a leader will develop a stakeholder list and find ways to communicate with and partner with these stakeholders.
Make Others Feel Important
In any organization, it is important to involve the entire organization in decision-making. When I was an assistant superintendent, the school district was looking to begin an educational reform initiative in the largest local career center building. We sent administrators, teachers, and students to five different schools to learn about different reform initiatives. When the final presentation was given to the staff, teachers and students made the presentation and provided the recommendation. Without involving students and teachers in this process, there would not have been “buy-in” for the changes. In any organization, involving the entire team can only bring a better team concept and make others feel important.
Follow the Golden Rule
A leader should always “treat others as he/she wants to be treated.” Treating others with respect, listening to their ideas, involving others in decisions, and always displaying a positive attitude is exactly how everyone wants to be treated. Effective leaders think about the organization, as a whole, when making decisions. As you read this article, I ask you to think about when you were treated fairly and respectful by a colleague. Didn’t you feel more important and positive? Sure you did! Now…think about a time when a colleague treated you with disrespect or a negative attitude. This one experience possibly ruined your day or your perception of that person. Just think if you performed one act of kindness every day and the positive impact you would make!
Leadership is a tough responsibility. You will never make everyone happy, but if you admit mistakes, become involved in your organization and partnering groups, make others feel important, and follow the “golden rule,” your leadership path will be full of positive experiences and will make a positive difference for others. Remember, it’s not how long you live your life that counts…it’s how you live during the time that you have on this earth that really makes a difference.
Dan Schroer is a consultant with Duran Kinst Strategies.