How difficult experiences shape leadership


person standing near lake
Photo by Lukas Rychvalsky on

Leading an organization is a complex process that involves many tasks. This includes managerial roles, visionary components, budgets, and utilizing resources.  When you consider the aspect of leading people –  the leadership attributes become very different and complex.  School leaders recognize that working with people involve making connections on a personal level, attending to their needs while yet providing the framework to help each person improve. It is a daunting task that leaves many leaders feeling exhausted, worn down and unfilled. Furthermore,  leaders may find themselves not growing from the process and as a result, the organization remains stagnant.

From my perspective, I recognize that dealing with an upset parent or staff member is both important and a routine part of work. Likewise, when staff are not growing then working with them in that area can be challenging.  In addition, dealing with a safety crisis and communicating to the school community is a stressor. However, developing a positive school culture and changing instructional practices from traditional to student centered is also a daunting task over time.  All of these experiences have shaped me and my perspective as a leader. From these experiences, I have learned valuable things from difficult situations and how to use that to grow as a leader. This all leads to the question……..How do you continually grow and develop as a leader?  The answer comes back to learning from  difficult experiences and using that to help shape you as a leader and propel growth.

What I have learned from difficult situations:

  1. Focus on what you can control. 
  2. Model the behaviors you want others to show. 
  3. Make the best out of each tough situation.
  4. Don’t make decisions in a vacuum.
  5. The challenging situation will make you collectively stronger. 

How to grow from experiences

  1. It is important to focus on the process and being reflective upon the work.  
  2. Growth is not automatic so learners must set aside time intentionally for this purpose.  
  3. Growth is what separates those who are successful and those who are not.  
  4. Learners who are growth conscious develop an awareness of how they need to grow
  5. Leaders grow daily

Leaders experience challenges that test them as leaders, but this is how someone matures in their profession.  The challenges also reveal a leaders potential and maturity, both of which are pathways to progress. Leaders may not always make the right decision, but as they reflect they learn from mistakes and recognize that each challenge is a stepping stone for later challenges that will arise that will allow them to be successful. All of the challenges that leaders face help shape and define who they are as leaders.  Each situation provides tests or challenges that determine how committed we are to our organization, reveal our true motive to our work of developing others, how we use resources, and demonstrate our character in how we respond to situations. Leaders will encounter difficult situations in leadership but how a person handles that situation, reflects and grows over time will ultimately determine the leadership impact of an individual.

I look forward to hearing from you about your thoughts about how you have been impacted by experiences and how did you use that for positive change.  Comment below or reach out to me at









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A Husband, Father and Principal with a focus on learning, leading and connecting with others.

An educator for 25 years with 14 of those being a building administrator. I have found that the more I learn form others and their experiences it helps me grow and learn as well. I hope you join our journey as we create learning environments for students and staff that create future success.

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