*This is a reflection post required for my JHU-ISTE Leadership program.
This post is in response to the following two questions.
- How has what you’ve learned so far in this course shaped your concept of an effective leader?
- Based on what you’ve learned so far, what are the top 3-5 characteristics you believe a successful principal must possess?
John W. Gardner (2007) defines leadership as “the process of persuasion or example by which an individual (or leadership team) induces a group to pursue objectives held by the leader or shared by the leader and his or her followers” (locations 323-27). To me, then, effective leadership would mean simply having a group of people pursue my objectives. Because being a leader, according to Gardner, is simply the act of getting the people to follow objectives, and by doing so, I would, in the simplest form of the term, be effective. The thing is, I don’t want to be effective, and I don’t want to be an effective leader. I want to be more than that.
I want to be an exceptional leader. If I’m being honest, I’d like to be one of the best leaders in education. I don’t mean that to sound prideful or arrogant in any way, and I fear many people are greatly trepid to speak of themselves in such terms because it makes it sound like it’s more about us than anything else. But it’s not. I want to be one of the best leaders in education because of what that will mean for the staff or district I’m leading. And I want to lead for the sake of people, not for the sake of leading.
I want to consider the work of Robert Evans as he discusses leadership. I want to lead with integrity and always stand for the value of learning. I want to allow Thomas J. Sergiovanni’s work on servant leadership to drive me to consider the needs of the constituents I lead through serving in a way that builds the capacity for leadership in every person in my building or district. I want to keep my mind focused on the differences I can make rather than the minutia I will face.
I truly want to find a way to capitalize on the work of Chris Argryis and build within my institution the ability to engage in organizational learning. I want my institution to do this in a manner that will move us forward together and in a direction that will prove to be valuable for our students.
And I don’t want to call it my institution. I want it to be ours. And I want us to be one of the best. Not the best on test scores or athletics or technology utilization or the best for the sake of being the best. I want to be the best for the sake of our students and for what that will mean for their lives and future.
For that, I want to be more than effective; I want to be exceptional.