It is all around us. More important than ever. We need it and want it during this challenging 2020 year. We are acutely aware of it. Others provide it or you provide it. Both happen simultaneously. Leadership… that is what this is about and with or without it, we are working through the challenges of a year we will not forget.
As I work with schools and districts, people are stepping up to lead when and where necessary no matter what their “title” is. Positional power we call this, when you actually have a leadership title. We know that doesn’t necessarily make you a leader but it does make you responsible. Day in and day out, those who have the position AND those who might not, are leading in schools and districts. Why? To get the job done. To make sure students are safe and learning occurs despite all the noise and roadblocks to this happening.
It doesn’t matter what country you are in when you read this or what your title is in the education system, you are leading. I am sure you could send me a story of leadership that has warmed your heart this school year. I am confident that that story has impacted the life of a student. You would tell me about a teacher who is not letting COVID be an excuse for his or her students not learning; the expectations are high and instruction is being adapted to meet the needs of the student. That is leadership. Or you might send in a tale of a school administrator who, despite exhaustion and many changing situations, just gets the job done… day in and day out, roadblocks are removed so teachers can teach and students can learn. That is leadership. Or you might want me to know about the district that is collaborating and ensuring that everything stays aligned and focused on the right priorities. They are protecting the schools from the everyday struggles just so students come first and learning is the goal. That is leadership.
Some make it look easy. Others struggle to lead. Many accept the need to be brave and courageous and rise to the challenge. Or… feel so vulnerable that it is difficult to be confident in decisions made. Whatever you are feeling, it is ok. Leadership does not follow a straight line. There are twists and turns and opportunities for success and failure. It is about continuing the journey despite the falls. Transforming a school or district is not a “walk in the park” and many days will feel difficult. Especially this year.
The important path to follow is sharing the load. When we build efficacy and empower others around us to lead, it somehow it seems less challenging to own the responsibility. When our energy is low, we need the synergy of a team; of collaborative efforts to transform. This may not be the year to add more projects or take a different direction, but it definitely is the year to lead. And, everyday that you or someone else provides steady, confident leadership, continuous improvement can happen. Your impact might not be obvious right now or even tomorrow. School and district improvement takes time and this year, more than ever, requires a relentless focus on the right work.
This blog is in celebration of you. Where ever you are and whatever you do in an education system (or in life in general), you lead through example. You lead with your words, your actions and your intentionality. Each new day is addressed with a renewed sense of purpose. Develop your skills, model, practice and honor others through your leadership. You matter. It matters. We need you. Thank you.