The phrase by John Maxwell “leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less” describes how true leaders can change their environment by their impact upon others. As I think back over time to the best leaders I have worked with, they didn’t all give great professional learning, not always the most visible and communication was okay. However, what they all did was influence those around them and as a result, had a positive impact upon others and their schools.
This blog post describes different ways someone can influence or impact others. There are many parts to leadership, but of all attributes most important to sustaining excellence in schools, is the development of others. This is achieved when the leader is intentional with their efforts, focuses on the right work and builds others up by developing their confidence, influencing their actions and behaviors. This leads to an improved effort by staff that collectively builds towards excellence. This is how you impact others and here are the characteristics that are found within those efforts.
Leaders must be many things to those they serve but the most foundational is to provide the character and values that help drive the organization and its people. When leaders know what they stand for and what you do is the right work, then it multiplies the significance in others and allows the school to have a solid foundation based on trust.
- Care for others
Many schools have great equipment and technology. Some buildings even have the latest floor plans with open seating and brand new furniture. These are nice but not the characteristics that move the needle on excellence. When leaders care for others, and put their needs before the leaders, then you are committing to love your people for who they are and what they bring to your school organization. We all have faults but also strengths. Leaders accept people for who they are, maximize someone’s strengths and value others for what they bring to their role.
The next time you are in a meeting with many individuals who are the head of their organization I encourage you to observe interactions. There are some who will speak first and often, others who are not engaged to the extent they should be and others who are soaking everything in and will share when needed. Leaders understand the value of learning from others, seeing other perspectives to help understand someone and then making informed comments and decisions.
- Develops others
The leader recognizes that their efforts and work is important to a school. But to create the biggest gains, the leader must develop people to their fullest potential as “you grow as a school community by growing your people”. This takes an investment of time, energy and effort and pouring into others. The leader sees potential in everyone and makes it their responsibility to connect with others. The greatest thing a leader can do for someone else is give them confidence; the confidence to step outside of their comfort zone to grow in their skill set. Leaders do this by seeing what people can become and working/motivating them to learn and develop over time. Leadership is built on integrity and character but the cornerstone are the people who make that school foundation.
Educators must remember that nothing is easy. In fact, if you want to create a difference then you must be willing to not only lead yourself but pour into developing others. This creates the greatest gift a leader can provide to an organization – impact others. Leaders focus on specific strategies and so their efforts help support and develop others as leaders. 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 “Impacting others” so you can leave your legacy. Comment below or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org