This past year has seen incredible changes in education and in our society. No one could have predicted what has occurred due to COVID-19 and how it is still impacting us. Educators have been challenged in so many ways, yet also have grown through these experiences. This past year has not been easy on educators but some have found a way to make the best of the situation to support students and each other. In many ways, education is being re-invented right in front of us and leadership is being re-defined. However, this is not true for all educators and leaders. Why do some people have failures but still push forward and find success while others cannot get out of their own way and stay stuck with the past? I think many leaders ask themselves these same types of questions as they are driven by how they can provide support to others and they want to maximize their opportunities. From my perspective, the importance is knowing “what is within your grasp” for each challenge and then focusing your attention and being intentional with your efforts with those endeavors.
Leaders need to recognize that everything that happens is within 1 of 3 areas:
- What is within their control
- What is out of their control
- What is within their influence
How leaders handle the challenges and experiences they face determines the effectiveness of their leadership. It is important they recognize which area each circumstance falls under. This determines if they are able to be successful or if they struggle through the situation. Simply put, leaders must recognize “what is within their grasp” so they are not putting time/effort into areas that will not have any impact. For example:
- If it is within their control – leaders must take responsibility for the action. This includes being honest, vulnerable and authentic with those they serve. Leaders must lead the way through tough situations with their character which is demonstrated by how they handle the situations, the effort they put into the work and how they model optimism. They must communicate clearly and effectively so all stakeholders are on the same page.
- If it is out of their control – leaders must trust those they support within their system or organization. Trust is one of the most important traits leaders can demonstrate and sharing that they trust those that make decisions in these instances will help those people around them feel a sense of calm and stability so they can focus on their specific roles and the work within it. It may not always be the decision a leader wants, but when you trust those you work with you are demonstrating key character traits such as loyalty and commitment which is needed to be part of a successful team and organization.
- If it is within their influence – Leaders must be thoughtful and wise to how they handle these situations. We must remember that our purpose is to positively influence and develop others. To do this, we must love those we serve, listen to their thoughts/concerns and then work with them to help find a better way. This includes validating their efforts and helping them feel valued as part of the team. The importance must be placed on collective efficacy or teamwork.
How leaders handle situations and “what is within their grasp”, allows a leader’s influence to grow as they appropriately focus on solving problems and serving others. It also allows a leader to connect with others by demonstrating “what can I give” to others and leading the way with authentic and transformational leadership. Each of the 3 mentioned areas above provides leaders with opportunities to demonstrate who they are as a person and leader, provide the vision for their school and take action through their efforts/actions to support others.
A single person can make a significant difference. Leadership entails skills that can be developed over time. By understanding “what is within your grasp” as a leader you will be able to be proactive, demonstrate strength in challenging times and yet model the vulnerability that unites people behind a shared vision. True leadership occurs by intentional efforts when you work extremely hard to improve your own learning and that leads to growth. It is never too late to change or adapt to create something better. We owe that to our students and staff that we serve. I encourage you to reflect and better understand “what is within your grasp” as a leader. Comment below or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org