Leadership is not easy.
There is risk and vulnerability in taking on the challenge of leading…in your classroom, in your department, in your building. Anyone who has ever led a project or a group of people knows this.
Stepping into a more “official” leadership position requires a willingness to risk judgement, disapproval, and failure. It is daunting, and it is immeasurably gratifying.
I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Shane Lopez (@hopemonger) speak eloquently this week about creating hope for students. What resonated with me though was what he shared about creating hope for the staff members in our care. There is research from Gallup around hope that helps identify what we need from our leaders.
Who we are matters!
People want a leader they can trust. You will almost always hear the word “integrity” used when describing the leaders people most admire. It is comforting to know that the person you are following, the person making decisions that impact you daily, has a strong moral compass. We want leaders who are also good people.
We need to trust that our leaders are honest and ethical. In education we also want people who are good role models.
There is something reassuring about knowing that if you say you will do something , you will. The best leaders have amazing follow-through. We trust that they will make good plans and see those plans through to fruition.
People want a leader who creates stability. Who you are today is who you will be tomorrow. Who you are with me is who you will be with others. The core beliefs of our organization will be the same from day to day, year to year.
Leading frequently requires difficult decisions and conversations. It is important to create a safe environment where you can tackle those challenges while building and maintaining positive relationships. A stable leader does this.
People want a leader who is compassionate. Dr. Lopez went so far as to call this love. Engaging communities feel like a family. The staff celebrates together. The staff mourns together. The staff shows up for each other.
This was an emotional week for many reasons. There were some exciting celebrations, some scary family challenges, and a difficult anniversary. Such is life. The real world rarely stops interfering as we try to teach or lead or live. Compassionate leaders recognize that we are all traveling a sometimes fun, sometimes challenging path. They listen to our stories. They ask about our families. They respect that we have good days and bad days, and they make the bad days easier.
Our schools are our work families. It should not take a crisis for us to tell each other how we feel. We do not say “I love you” enough in this world.
Finally, people want a leader who creates hope. Gallup defines hope as “the belief that the future will be better than the present, along with the belief that you have the power to make it so”. In education, what more could we want? We teach to touch the future!
As a leader (and we are all leading in some area of our life), who we are matters. Seek to be someone that others would want to follow.