Either you lead or you don't. At the end of the day, you can't pretend and you can't fake it. People are looking toward you with all that they've got. They have chosen this profession to make a difference. The last thing they need is someone with a title that can't make a decision for the sake of the organization. Educators need a leader who can be honest and transparent and a leader that embraces all that comes with the role.
Leadership is an art. It takes more than just a few courses at the local university or through an online class or two. It is not for the faint of heart and it is not intended to be a responsibility that just gets you on more notch in the belt. If you want to be any good at this thing called leadership, then you should consider the following:
Get Off the Fence. For every book I have read, meeting I have attended or conversation I have been exposed to, one sure way to find a leader that has their head in the wrong place is one that can't make up their mind. Yes, there are times for pause, for reflection and for ensuring you are doing what's best for kids and your community. However, when push comes to shove leaders have to know when to get off the fence and make a decision. Due diligence is one thing. Procrastination is another.
Follow Your Gut. Leaders have been given hours of upon hours of life experiences in the real world. We don't get these positions lightly. Believe it or not, whether you want to or not, someone actually looked at you, handed you the keys to that building and said something along the lines of, "You'll be great. Now go lead your staff and students to do amazing things!" Now that you have that shiny key and walk those academic halls, remember that the thing on your shoulders and that pit in your stomach actually can go hand-in-hand. Follow your gut and do what's best for kids, for your staff and for your community. It's not always going to be easy, but it will always be worth it.
Surround Yourself With Really Smart People. We have all heard the expression in regards to "the smartest person in the room is the room". Well, if that is the case then I will darn well make it a priority to surround myself with super smart people when it comes to teaching and learning. They will be at the door, peering in the windows and clamoring on the roof. Many of us fall under the umbrella of "jack of all trades and a master of none". My honesty puts me there. I know my strengths and weaknesses. I would like to think that knowing this is half the battle. At the end of the day, I find those that are not only smart at what they do but also a compliment to how I lead. Too many of the same minds leads to little progress. Get out of your comfort zone and find others that will help you be a better leader yourself.
Give Credit Where Credit Is Due. Truth - most of the really great things that I do in my leadership role in my building I had very little to do with when it comes to the inception. Truth - most of us get our ideas from the endless amount of resources in this global, digital age. If you come across a great idea or concept and want to implement it in your own institution, do us all a favor and let us know where the idea came from. As a leader who depends on trust and honesty, don't get caught with your pants down when a colleague learns that your "brain child" of an activity or lesson really came from someone up the street or across the globe.
Be a Closer. If there is one thing I have learned on this leadership journey it is that you have to close on your ideas and your desire to lead others. Charm and charisma works for a while. However, when the smile no longer does the trick and the handshakes have worn out their welcome you had better be able to close when it comes to all things in leading others. Holding others accountable, being transparent with your staff and being committed to your community are just a few examples of how you can close in on your relationships with others. Build the connections and do the right thing(s).
When it comes to leadership, you need to be "all-in" or you need to get all-out. The reality is that when push comes to shove and teachers are in the trenches or administrators are in the buildings you need more than just a shiny key to the front doors in order for others to believe in you and buy in to you. If you can't lead in a way that does so, move over, let someone else give it a go. and as always be truthful with yourself and don't fake it.