What makes a great leader, and how can I be that person? Or maybe the better question is, could I be that person? I’ve spent some time this semester asking the people who I considered to be great school leaders what are the characteristics of a good Leader? Two of the most common answers included: A good leader is someone that empowers people to make their own decisions. This sounds good, however, implies that we let the employees make up their own minds about what to do, and how to get the end result. What if the decisions made are not in line with the goals of the organization? Another one: A good leader is someone who gives clear, direct orders, and commands her employees. Good as well, although seemingly a contradiction to the first response in that it implies that we'd better be somewhat of a micromanager and tell everyone exactly what to do and how to do it. In the end, the best response, and only answer I heard was, A great leader gets results. And the route to getting results is based on the current situation. While it is generally agreed that empowering people is a good idea, there are also those employees who need cookbook directions instead of generalized goals, or a push now and then to perform at their best… So there is no “best way to do it” that covers all situations and focusing on activities or cultures does not always lead to results. A good leader knows how to find the right tool, when to use it, and always delivers results. So that will be my goal.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Collins Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't and while all of his ideas were excellent, some were more in keeping with my developing leadership style than others. They are;
1) First Who, Then What
2) Confront the Brutal Facts (yet never lose faith)
3) Develop a Culture of Discipline
Reading about these principals truly resonated with me, they are a clarification of 3 approaches to life and work that I try to follow.
First Who, Then What
This may be one of the greatest challenges as a school leader. What kind of people would I surround myself with, what characteristics would they possess? Firstly, they would be people who share my core values, who believe that education is a lofty goal in and of itself, who recognize that there is not one “standard” for education that is right for all people. This person would also be someone who does not need to be “managed”. Most importantly, as we are working in an industry that is notorious for it’s low remuneration, these are people who wake up every morning with a drive to be the best that they can be by nature.
Next I would consider key positions in our school. Could this person be the best in that position? If not, how can there talents best be used, what roles best exhibit their strongest faculty, and what contributions would make them shine? I would want the person not only to shine as an individual, but also to understand that their job...