Like so many professions, educators get better by learning from others and applying this work to their own craft. It happens in the business world, coaching and within leadership too. As I study and learn about leadership, I intentionally try to learn from great leaders within the field of education. Recently I was reading the blog by friend and leader Danny Baeur (twitter handle @alienearbud) called 15 Things Great Leaders Do. His read provided a great reflection tool as he interviews, studies and learns from greater leaders from across the globe. In this particular instance, the reflection upon those 15 traits allowed me to see where my strengths are, be aware of blindspots and understand how to intentionally grow to improve. Overall this provided me an opportunity to be aware of areas for me to START doing, others to CONTINUE to do and add a few to STOP doing. This mindset of continual growth and pushing to get better provides the action for positive change.
Here are the 15 traits that were listed that great leaders do (I put into my own words)
- Invest in self
- Put things into action
- Work in their strength zone
- Serve others – not please others
- Daily habit – start it right
- Journal your findings
- Communicate the vision
- What type of feedback are you giving to others
- ALL means ALL for every student
- Develop others
- Develop your EQ (the ability to control your emotions and read others emotions)
- Express gratitude
- Choose your mindset
- Collaborate with others that will allow you to influence others
- Re-energize self
While having a list like this is helpful, it will not make any impact unless you take the time to reflect upon your strengths, become more self aware, and identify how you intend to grow moving forward. A person could look at the list and identify which areas are your strengths and ones to continue. To help with this, consider asking yourself the following questions in relation to the 15 attributes:
What do I do well?
What do I want to do?
What do others say I do well?
What do I do as an area of strength that I can keep getting better at in the position/role?
What skills or experiences am I learning in my role?
Who am I developing within the role?
What makes me happy?
What do people need from me daily that they may not want to ask me for?
What can I work on that will help me serve people better?
How will I know that I am serving people well?
The answers to these questions will help you identify areas to continue to do and even some to start doing. It is just as important to recognize you must stop doing some things as well as the quality of your time/focus is more important than the quantity of what you focus on. As we all recognize, leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less. But to lead others we must lead ourselves first. Once you recognize attributes that are your strengths please be mindful the best way to grow is to continually stretch yourself within your strength zone. That is where you can gain the most as a leader as you will continually grow and it is what will separate you from others. I encourage you to take this a step further and identify what you can start-continue-stop in all facets of your life as this allows you to have a better balance as a leader. The chart below shows how to think through this part of the reflection.
Reflection and how to be Action Oriented within your:
|Passions or areas of interest|
The important thing about reflecting and trying to improve is that it is much more meaningful to write the specific areas down so it becomes visible to you. If something is visible on paper or a computer, you can look at it often and reflect upon your work within each area.
Overall to move forward with your growth:
- Find a mentor who can push you and give feedback
- Build strong connections to those people who value you and make you better
- Develop others
- Change is greatest growth accelerator – ask yourself what do you need to change about your current learning and growth process
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 starts with recognizing how you can continue to grow, what you need to start doing and also what you can stop doing. By recognizing these components then you are more intentional with your time, efforts and energy and can pour into others. Leaders focus on specific strategies and so their efforts help support the overall purpose of pursuing excellence. 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 should leaders start-continue-stop doing” so you can leave your legacy. Comment below or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org