Wednesday, April 20, 2011

3 characteristics of a leader

Following all those conferences from rural northland: google teachers #gta2011 - apple educators #adeanz - #nappgen2011 aspiring principals - #slide2learn australian mobile learning.
It was quite a disruption to the first week of the holidays. Fishing, lawnmowing, watching sport on sky, and these bloody conferences, there I was thinking i'm missing everything, something.

After favouriting tweets I went back and read through the links. I couldn't help but think Derek was onto something.
The quote that bit me on the backside was this “there are three characteristics of a leader, they have vision, they are able to articulate that vision, and they engender the trust of others to pursue that vision.”
This came from Leadership for 21st Century Learning Don Hanna.

I was asked a question in tweet form from Julie.
So why wouldn't I use dereks quote as my answer?

Problem is, what does this vision look like and sound like on a daily basis and how do you get to the stage that its being actioned ?

A leader has to have a vision but it needs to be shared, it needs to be owned by all those on the staff, and it needs to make sense, not some airy fairy crap. The vision cant be just about data driven educational outcomes. It has to include a philosophical synthesis of teachers, expectations around hard work, expectations around empathy, and a whole school approach to not just students but their whole family.
After that paragraph is ticked the action of the vision and the trust of others to deliver on it is paramount. So what should leaders do to help others deliver the vision?
They have to live the vision themselves through action. Taking the time to help teachers and staff deliver to children and families in and beyond the classroom. Backing your staff in your community, supporting them when the gossip is running. Giving staff opportunities to lead, being there to support them after hours and in class. Celebrate the success of teachers and kids. Thanking them publicly in speeches, newsletters etc.
The list could go on, let me know your essentials for engendering the trust of staff to implement the shared vision.


Regan Orr said...

As always, a good post, Luke. Too true about the staff aspect. A little thanks goes a long way. They are there doing the hard yards, implementing the Vision and making sure our children receive quality learning. At the end of this term I emailed each staff member and individually thanked them for the term. Unintentionally, they all replied and thanked me for thanking them - it spurred them on and let them know they 'make the difference'.

j_cowan said...

Always important to reflect on our espoused theory - the things we say we believe in and do and what we ACTUALLY do. Important to sit back and reflect on how much of a difference there may be.

As you said, it can't be airy fairy stuff, we can all trot out the 'right things' around vision, pedagogy, curriculum etc - it shows in our actions, big and small (interesting link here to your post about sweating the small stuff - somethings the little things are the things that show coherence and value).

Glad I might have prompted some thinking!


Richard J. Lloyd said...

Thanks Luke for your post. As a newly appointed principal I was interested in what the 3 charcteristics might be. I'd like to know what you and your readers think about the area of trust. Being able to trust your leader for me is the foundation upon which other areas are built. A leader might have a brilliant vision but if the staff struggle to trust the leader then it may have little impact - especially during the "owning" phase.

Hope you've had a good break.


Anonymous said...

I completely agree with "not some airy fairy crap". Vision is a word that gets thrown around so much in education, that it has the potential to lose meaning for those of us in the classroom. I think keeping it simple is important but I also think a vision and a leader has to inspire. I don't want to show up to work and just do the job. I want to be a part of something creative, designed to fit the community I serve. I want to work with and for people who I inspire and am inspired by.
I agree with Richard's comments. I won't ever be inspired by someone I don't trust.


Podgorani said...

Well well, seems 4 people were paddling a similar waka in the school holidays. julie, the small stuff does matter heaps and your connection is not lost in translation, nice.
Richard you comments on trust are very interesting, sometimes you just cant do enough and the trust will never appear, I reckon I could write a checklist of actions you could do to engender the trust, I reckon you could write that list. Bring it up at the next principals meeting PLN or cluster of trusted friends, you could write that list together.
Regan, after ten emails from you I will need another way, keep it rich real and moving but with the same message with the same genuine intent.
Rachel nothing worse than teachers talking and not living the talk!

Anonymous said...

Don't misinterpret that...  I'm living and talking.  I've built my house upon a rock and I can assure you, it's not a leaky building ;-)