Last week I had the opportunity to share with a graduate class of educators studying school leadership.
We talked for about an hour about essential roles of school leaders, and then I fielded questions from class members for another half hour.
At one point, a class member commented, “It’s obvious you like to invest in the growth of leaders. What motivates you to do so?”
This is the kind of question that takes a while to answer in full. But in part, I explained that I like to invest in growing leaders for three reasons: to support teachers, to support students, and to “redeem” and “repair” school environments.
I believe these are the reasons most of us serve. If you are a school leader, I’d like to take a moment to use these three points as a way to remind you why you lead:
1. To support teachers
You were motivated to be involved in school leadership because you wanted to provide the kind of support for teachers you appreciated from strong principals and/or longed to receive from others.
By investing in growing other leaders, you are continuing the support, direction, resources, and backing teachers will always need to instruct children.
2. To support students
One motivation you had for becoming a school leader was the desire to help create the kind of school environment you would want for your own children. And you want to provide the same for other parents’ children.
Next to classroom teachers, principals provide the most significant influence in the quality of education students receive.
Growing leaders need to understand the important role they will play in casting vision, building morale, and leading others.
3. To redeem and repair
I know that may sound a bit hokey, but let me explain by referring to a talk I heard from a great writer and pastor Timothy Keller.
He explains that most of us are motivated by two extremes: fear or pride. Both are negative.
Fear keeps us from making courageous decisions. Fearful leaders, for instance, may be wary to make tough calls because they want everyone to like them.
Pride motivates us to think more of ourselves than we should. As an example, prideful leaders resent dissent, usually because they believe their perspective is superior to others.
So what is a more positive motivation for leaders? I like to call it motivation by wonder or purpose.
If you lead because you love the idea of helping others and the joy of creating something great, then you are “redeeming” (making situations better than we found them) and “repairing” (correcting or reversing actions headed in the wrong direction).
Investing in future leaders means helping them see the greater purpose in what they are doing for others too. Leadership is not about us. It is about serving others.
7 Free Resources For School Leaders
As a follow-up to my time with the leadership class, I sent each of them links to some 7 other resources.
You may find some of this content helpful for your growth as a school leader too, or you may know another aspiring school leader who could benefit from them, so feel free to share:
Resource 2: Building A Parent Email Subscription List.. A step-by-step process for building a strong parent email list. I have over 700 on my list at present.
Resource 3: Helping Your School Deal With Grief, Grief And The Media. From some painful experiences I faced my first year as site principal, these tips may help others when they face the loss of a student.
Resource 4: Maximizing Communication With Stakeholders. You are your school’s biggest cheerleader. Learn ways to do it well.
Resource 6: Learning to Deal With Difficult People. A skill we should never stop developing and will use every day.
Resource 7: Interviewing For Education Positions. Lessons I have learned from conducting hundreds of interviews and sitting through a few where I was in the hot seat.
It is invigorating to invest in future school leaders who are eager to find ways to grow.
Let’s keep paying forward by sharing lessons from our experiences. Thanks for connecting and growing together!
Now It’s Your Turn
For the seasoned leader: What is some feedback on other areas of school leadership not listed above that you would want to share from your experience?
For aspiring leaders: What are some other areas of interest of which you’d like to learn more?
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