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Thursday, October 17, 2013

What is Leadership to You?

I have been having a philosophical discussion about leadership (with myself) for a while now. Weird, sure; but, meaning is often made only when things get weird – and real. Here’s where I am right now…

Being a leader is about knowing how to step aside and trust your instincts. Leadership has nothing to do with me. It is about the idea and the movement. Those of us that aspire to be leaders; should make sure that we are fully aware of what we are striving towards. Building school cultures, affecting positive change and improving student well-being and achievement – these are what matters. If your sights are set on leadership – and you don’t know this by now – listen up. This message is for you.

I have come to believe that it is the means that earn our attention – not just the ends. Learning is messy. It better be. Without the mess, the inner-struggle and the self-reflection – there can be no lasting change or learning. Experience should be the goal. Living the idea and trying the next approach are what we should be asking of our educators, students and parents alike.

I used to think that my own professional image would be crafted through successful projects and key networks that I could form. I believed that my pathway to leadership sat idle on the shoulders of others who may vouch for me and spread the word about my potential. I have come to understand that it is the work that needs the spotlight. Doing the work ensures that not only can you connect to what’s important – you can also understand why the ‘how’ is important.  We are curious by nature, indeed, but it is not until we step into a growth mindset and build a new way of ‘being’ for ourselves that we can truly model learning and growth for others to emulate.

Our students are the work. Make no mistake about it. In spite of some of their teachers, the classroom approaches to learning and the things they will experience, within our school walls – they will grow, develop and affect change for themselves and others in some way. Our charge is to guide the process. It is to teach essential learning practices, key ideas and critical thinking processes – so that they can discover their own journey – and be successful on their chosen pathways.

Leadership is scary. How can anyone step forward and declare that their goal is to make themselves obsolete by building the successes of others (thereby suppressing individual glory)? It takes a truly altruistic act to recognize just how inconsequential the day-to-day actions of the ship’s ‘captain’ are; if the ship is running efficiently and purposefully – and that is the goal all along.

Be a leader. Facilitate the learning of others. You might phase-out yourself – but you will ignite all the leadership dreams and potential of others in a way that illuminates your own growth journey.

What is leadership to you? Am I way off? I would love to hear about your leadership journey in the comment space below. Thanks!

1 comment:

J. Mihovilovich said...

Mr. Finney, you are an inspirational leader. I agree that being a leader, means removing ones ego and modelling the behaviours you desire. By modelling a culture of asking questions and teaching how to think critically about relevant topics, and looking critically yourself, you'll be positively influencing our future leaders. Being a leader is being part of the community of learners.

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