Developing a Leadership Philosophy
It is very telling that one of our last activities focuses on reflection and communication. It is telling because these are the two characteristics emphasized throughout each of my leadership classes. Reflection deals with a leader’s ability to internalize learning. Communication incorporates a leader’s ability to develop relationships and influence them effectively. I firmly believe both characteristics are the keys to effective leadership. A number of experts concur believing that a leader must start with knowledge of oneself and develop that into an ability to communicate, share ideas, visions, and listen to others.
Bolman and Deal (1994) summarize management and leadership as follows, “management provides consistency, control, and efficiency. But leadership is needed to foster purpose, passion, and imagination” (p.77). Fullan (2001) points to the Bolman and Deal description of leadership and focuses on the fostering of purpose. Fullan (2001) agrees with Sergiovanni’s thoughts that, “authentic leaders anchor their practice in ideas, values, and commitments, exhibit distinctive qualities of style and substance, and can be trusted to be morally diligent in advancing the enterprises lead” (p.14). Fullan (2001) posits that the moral purpose of a leader and the success of an organization are synonymous.
FINDING A MORAL COMPASS
Where does a leader find his/her moral purpose? Bolman and Deal (2001) write that a leader must “lead from something deep in [his/her] heart” (p.23). For me, my moral purpose/compass is deeply rooted in my Christian faith. I have a firm belief in what is right and wrong, ethical and unethical. These concepts are not ambiguous for me. I have resources like the Bible, my family, and my pastor to turn to when I am uncertain. Bolman and Deal (2001) agree with Matthew Fox that life and livelihood flow from the same source, Spirit. Bolman and Deal (2001) feel that crisis brings us face to face with our Soul. For me, crisis brings me face to face with God, and that brings me back to my foundation.
BEING TRUE TO THE MORAL COMPASS
George (2004) believes that effective leaders are simply authentic human beings. Again, the idea is to look with in oneself first and develop a viable foundation from which to work. People need to know where a leader stands. George (2004) puts it very simply, if people cannot trust a leader, they will not follow him. I wear my faith quite openly. My colleagues and students know I am a committed Christian by my actions. I do not evangelize in school, but people know they can come to me for straight, honest advice, knowing I will do the right thing by them. I believe I am respected for my unwavering approach to teaching, learning, and leading in a modern middle school. This does not mean all leaders must be Christians. Many Christian leaders leave their spiritual life at home. It means their internal source of energy, power must spring from a...