Personalising Leadership

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Photo credit: http://www.geteverwise.com via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

When a student in our class in not growing and learning, do we blame the student or try to develop approaches and strategies that might support them? I would hope to think that we try and figure out why it’s not working for them and develop actions and responses.

Why do we not approach the development of leadership in this way. If we truly believe that leaders are developed and not just “born” then leadership, including our own, is a continuum of growth.  I think even the greatest leaders of our time would never suggest that they achieved ultimate leadership capacity.

In our system we define leaders with titles – principal, deputy, assistant principal, coordinator, lead teacher etc. Yet we also know that it is our actions that define leadership and that anyone can demonstrate leadership, regardless of their title or position. At the same time, it is our responsibility as “defined leaders” with titles to develop our own leadership capacity and that of other “defined leaders” in our schools.  Just as we wouldn’t let ‘Johnny’ relinquish in our classrooms, why would we allow our coordinators, assistant principals, deputies or principals to flounder without support.

The challenge in our classrooms is to develop personalised approaches to improve each learner. The challenge in our leadership teams is to personalise approaches to improve each leader. Just as in the classroom, sometimes our approaches work immediately and other times they do not, but we must not give up.

I feel that our most powerful weapon as leaders, is continual reflection on what is working and why, and what is not working and why. A principal/deputy/assistant principal who blames individuals for their lack of achievement, their misunderstandings or shortage of actions, is not reflecting inwardly and not taking responsibility for their role in that person’s leadership development. Isn’t it much easier though to play the blame game, deflecting any part in the whole growth process.

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