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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Know Thy Impact

I spent 3.5 years, and a lot of money, studying my passion to validate what I already knew to be true-LEADERSHIP MATTERS. School leaders today have been charged with the difficult task of transforming public education to meet the needs of the 21st century, while still being confined to work within a 20th century model, thought-process, and framework. Leaders have to show, prove, and defend why we must do things a different way in order to prepare our students for their future--not our past.

Transformation is hard, especially when you don't know where to begin. Often times when people hear the word transformation, they immediately think about adding or deleting things in order to quickly get to a desired state. It is critical to remember that change is not an event. It is a process. The concept of transformation is huge, but the tenets of the big idea can be chunked into four areas:
  • Influence
  • Inspirational Motivation
  • Individualized Consideration
  • Intellectual Stimulation
When the tenets of transformational leadership are practiced consistently, and with fidelity, the collective efficacy of an organization will be strengthened. Transformational leaders seek to have power with people--not power over people. At the crux of transformation are relationships. People don't care how much you know, or what position you hold, until they know how much you care. They certainly won't follow you if they don't think that you care about them as individuals. The purposeful intent of caring about the welfare of our staff members is our responsibility. Our influence is greater than we will ever know. 

Our teachers look to us for guidance and direction. They respect us for the position we hold, but they trust us and follow us for how we make them feel. As transformational leaders, we must also remember that we are charged with motivating our staff. We are to provide the inspiration to encourage and awaken their aspirations. We are to help them believe in things they never thought to be possible, and pull them in to be engaged in things they never thought they could or would do. It is our job as leaders to spark the fire of intellect, peak curiosity, promote and encourage risk taking, and most importantly, celebrate success, and failure. 

Dr. Martin Luther King never said he had a strategic plan. He had a dream, and because of his passion and purpose, he motivated and inspired people to achieve something greater than any individual could have achieved alone. He was a thinker, a dreamer, an encourager, a motivator, and a risk taker who revolutionized the world. 

This is a video of a mother duckling leading her baby ducklings across a very busy freeway. In the video, you will notice that the mother duckling communicates to the baby ducklings before they start their journey to the other side. I believe she communicated her vision for making it across the busy freeway. This was an extremely dangerous trek that involved huge risks, but this did not dissuade the mother duckling. A lesson can be gleaned from this video. As leaders we should model the way, show care and concern, be courageous, be focused, and be determined to achieve our vision.

We cannot forget the significant impact that we have on the lives of the individuals we serve. Children look up to their parents and teachers. Parents trust the teachers of their children, and all stakeholders look to the principal for guidance. While in the trenches, it is extremely important that we know, accept and understand thy impact.

As we prepare to embark on another school year, I want to charge leaders with three statements to reflect upon:

  • Don't Talk About It-Be About It. Your actions should reflect your values.
  • Go Big or Go Home. Why be satisfied with being good when you can be great!
  • Know Thy Impact. Understand  and  accept the responsibility of leadership. Your influence is greater than you will ever know.

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