LEADERSHIP THAT MATTERS
Leadership has become one of the buzz words in education that has had some staying power, but I'm not so sure why we mystify the concept or revere it with such awesomeness and piety. It's even being combined with other education buzzwords to create "new" leadership roles. I've seen teacher leaders, edtech leadership, digital leadership, change leadership, innovative leadership, and today I saw for the first time, enlightened leadership. Have we created a religion of "leadership"? Why are we so fascinated, intimidated, and awed by this concept? Does it reveal our human nature in that each of us want to be followers? Or, does it say more about Hope? A Hope that the solution or the answer or the path to resolution to some enormous problems, or even our own internal happiness, is just around the corner where the Next Great Leader will be.
What I've learned both professionally and personally is that the myth of leadership is more fable than fact. While it is true, a single individual can point the ship in the right direction and work to create a vision or culture that allows others to flourish, I've found that the best, most productive environments are created when individuals all have a hand on the wheel. When every member of the team, company, school, or classroom are each helping to turn the ship. So, this may be a leadership philosophy and I admit that personally I'm an ineffective leader of large groups, but what I am effective at is being a leader of one. I know myself. I know my strengths. I know my weaknesses. I know my passions. I know my aversions. By starting with me I've come to see the leadership dogma in a different light.
Leadership begins with me. I'm responsible for the way I interact or don't interact with the world. I often say "don't wait to be anointed a leader, because it will never happen'. Instead of waiting, assume leadership of what each of us can directly control. Our actions, our thinking, our work, and how we do our work. There will always be outside forces that will infringe or intrude on the sanctity of an individual, but think of the strength of the whole if each of us assumed responsibility and took a more active and thoughtful role in our own leadership. By embracing the idea of leading ourselves, each of us will create ripples of impact that will sustain change and influence long after we are no longer in a particular role.
In a world where we are working tirelessly to help students achieve independence, become reflective thinkers, and assume a growth-mindset, it seems odd that the institution of education is still waiting for a leader to come and save the school, the program, or movement. Why can't each of us be the leader we want?