Friday, January 4, 2013

10 things I've learned about leadership...

I just recently finished my first semester as the Director of Curriculum and Personnel in the Union R-XI School District in St. Louis, Missouri. The transition from a building level administrator to a central office administrator has proven to be quite the learning experience. The last several years have been huge in terms of my professional growth. Throughout this journey I have continued the practice of self-reflection and I have attempted to learn from my mistakes. Here is a little bit of what I've learned:

~ Pride is extremely important and is something we all need, but if you are not careful, pride will work against you and ultimately blind you from seeing and doing what must be done. There are times to flex your pride, and there are times to swallow your pride... knowing when to do which is key.

~ There is an ugly side to leadership and very rarely will anything be just black and white. Leadership demands that we make decisions knowing full well that they won't be popular. The longer you are in a leadership position, the more likely you will be forced to make a decision that hurts someone innocent.

There is a healthy balance between being the center of the show & playing the support role; finding the correct balance that matches your personality and the personality of your leadership team is key.

The biggest hurdles you will face as a leader will almost always originate with your own real or perceived struggles. When working with others, you need to look in the mirror and judge yourself much more often than judging the actions of those with whom you work.

Your ability to be patient won't reap any immediate rewards... and that is exactly why being patient is so important. The ability and concerted effort to sit back and observe may seem like inaction, but sometimes inaction is just what the doctor ordered.

Part of leadership is recognizing & accepting that making everyone happy is near impossible. If your main goal is to please all of those around you, you are destined to fail. Don't make your leadership decisions on what you think will make everyone happy unless you want to feel disappointment. 

When you trust those with whom you work, you take the first step toward sustainable growth, trust is the essential foundation. Whatever you do, make sure that the team approach is the only approach. A weak team can't be fixed by a great leader, and a great team will be destroyed by a poor leader. 

There is difference between doing what is right, doing what you need to do, and ultimately what you end up doing...

Little fires are only able to become big fires because they are ignored & not addressed. Leadership is naturally about reacting and responding, but the more you are able to be proactive the better off you will be. 

Sometimes leadership is about jumping on the grenade that wasn't even thrown at you... sometimes leadership is about having broad enough shoulders to carry the weight of many... sometimes leadership is about getting kicked down and then being kicked while you are down. Real leadership is figuring out how to get back up and not getting kicked in the same place again...