School years have natural ebbs and flows, and the two weeks before Spring Break can sometimes be difficult days. Anyone who works with children knows the phenomenon of the week before the week before a break. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Right before a break, everyone exhales and sees the light at the end of the tunnel. But that week before, the anticipation and stress peak. It can be a rough time in schools. My advice…be awesome anyway!
“If there are two paths, I want to be on the one that leads to awesome.” Almost 35 million people have watched Kid President’s Pep Talk video on YouTube. Why? What message inspires that kind of following, and what can we as educational leaders learn from it?
Leadership is complex, but there is one characteristic that seems to inspire people universally. Positivity! People want to be motivated by their leader. They want to feel like they can be better, achieve more, succeed. Energy is contagious, and you can choose to spread negativity, or you can choose to spread positivity.
Effective leaders have insight, emotional intelligence, and gravitas. When they are interacting with others, they show exceptional interpersonal skills. In times of crisis, they display almost relentless positivity.
Leadership is difficult. In schools it is about leading instructional change, making difficult and divisive budget decisions, disciplining students. Many situations have two opposing sides. The pace is frenetic, and the stress is palpable. Yes, leadership is difficult.
But when the moment is challenging, when people are angry, when the circumstances are frightening, people need a leader who is none of those things. Leadership is difficult, but the best leaders have a way of maintaining their positivity. A colleague who works with new administrators in our district describes his style as that of a duck. Below the water, he is paddling fast and furious, but above the water, where people can see, he is positive, calm, and smooth.
Our Superintendent describes it as “getting back to zero”. Regardless of the stress of the moment, effective leaders get themselves back to a positive place quickly.
Never would I assert that successful leadership could be broken down simply into any one thing. We are all different as leaders, and our differences should be celebrated. But if we could all start by being positive, I believe we could create a culture that allows for growth.
Regardless of the current circumstances, take Kid President’s advice. Be awesome!