Recently we had spring break which provided some much needed time to rest and recharge. Each educator needs that opportunity as it allows them to be their best through the end of the school year. For me, it also provides more time to take longer walks, read and just think. One of those readings caught my attention and gave me the opportunity to recognize the connection between Leadership and Magnetism. In John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, he describes the Law of Magnetism as it applies to leadership as “Who you are is who you attract”. In this blog post, we take a closer look at identifying how your leadership traits do influence the quality of individuals and their skillset who choose to join your team.
As I shared in a recent blog, in my 26 years as an educator some aspects of leadership have become more clear. This includes how some educators, despite good intentions, fall back to average within their role as they believe their impact is minimal. However, there are also many educators who daily give their best to others and still strive to get better. If you think about these two types of educators (one is content to simply do the job and the other is inspired to grow and improve) – if you were applying for a job which type of educator would you want to join as a teammate? Now think about if those two types of educators were in leadership roles and leading organizations. This is how some schools improve over time while other schools stay the course and remain stagnant. Leadership is a privilege and also an opportunity to impact positive change. We all recognize that any educator can lead from their role, help others and make significant contributions to a school community, but this blog post looks specifically at “who you are is who you attract” as others consider joining your team.
It is helpful and a necessity for leaders to first recognize who they are as a leader and a person. This involves reflection. Ideally, the type of person you are as a leader is the same person they are at home as they have core values that guide their work. To help understand your strengths or areas of leadership, consider the following: Great school leaders have many tasks on their plates but they choose to an extent how they spend their time and what their focus is on. Here are some reflective questions to help you think about how you lead the educators within your school or organization:
1). How do you value others?
2) What are ways you support your educators when they truly need it?
3) How do you spend your time while in school?
4) How do you collectively solve problems?
5) Is it a priority for you to be in schools and classrooms ?
6) How do you model collaboration?
7) What values do you stand for and do the people you support know this?
8) What are the little things you do for others that help them feel valued?
9) Would you want to be a teacher in your school or a principal in your district?
10) How do you intentionally build connections with kids and let them know they are awesome?
Analyzing these questions will allow you to understand if you are leading the right way – the way you would want to be led? In today’s changing school landscape, the leaders of the districts and schools must be transformational leaders. These are leaders who have the following traits of Transformational Leadership.
- Foster Effective Relationships and culture
- Lead Instructional Leadership
- Embody Visionary Leadership with shared vision
- Develop Leadership Capacity within others
- Create Sustainable Change
This allows the leader to develop others and create collaborative teams, create systems/structure that supports the work, be able to adjust/pivot if needed and develop strategies to support the vision/work over many years to create the positive change. The types of skills that a leader needs to be a transformational leader may vary from one perspective to another as to which are most important. However, research shows the following skills are most valued/desired by educators within buildings that directly work with students. Furthermore, any person needs a “champion”; someone who believes in themselves and will support and coach them over time so they feel the need to grow and get support to do it. Below are some examples of what transformational leaders “do” for educators.
|What Educators need or want to be part of||What transformational leaders provide|
|Most people are insecure||Give them confidence|
|Want a bright future||Give them hope by having them help develop the vision|
|Need to be understood||Listen to their needs|
|Want direction or guidance||Walk with them to understand their challenges|
|Can get emotionally drained from work||Encourage them|
|Want to be part of something||Ask for their feedback and include them – develop their capacity|
Educators want to go to a school or district where they feel valued, get support, can be part of something special and believe they are contributing to a larger purpose. If you go deeper and analyze leaders and “who” they are at their core, there are specific items they value and place as pillars of the work that attract the highest quality of educators. This includes the leaders valuing:
- Importance of Trust – They model Character in their work and Competence in their decisions.
- Teamwork – They lead with Vulnerability (ex. Admit when they make mistakes) and place a high value on communication.
- Develop a Shared Vision
- They Connect with others – They connect by being Genuine, take an interest in others, smile often, are humble and lead with humility and positivity.
Leaders recognize that their efforts and work are important to a school. But to create the biggest gains, the leaders must understand how we can be our best and continually improve and this means remembering “who they are as a leader determines the quality of educators that choose to join their team or school”. No single person can make great things happen in schools, it is through the team of people that we develop or hire that can achieve great things. Our work, our time, our efforts and attitudes all matter as it impacts others. If you want to create a difference then you must be willing to not only lead yourself but learn how to best support your people and attract the very best. 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 you do matters. Comment below or reach out to me at email@example.com