Thursday, April 30, 2015

Why I Lead

Recently I have started a rigorous self-reflection on my own leadership. Shouldn't we be doing this at all times? Yes. However, I believe that often leaders fail to take the time necessary to rigorously self-reflect. I am defining rigorous self-reflection as a piece by piece, long-term look at my own professional capacities and deliberately planning actions to address the deficiencies that I identify. In order to do this I needed a starting point, a place where I could center the reflection. I decided that I wanted to look through the lens of questions rather than ratings. Fortunately, Principal Baruti Kafele just released his newest book, The Principal 50. This book poses 50 essential questions for school-based leaders centered on leadership - the real leadership paradigm, not just management. Using Principal Kafele's book I am now embarking on a self-reflective journey. I firmly believe that for my self-reflection to be meaningful I need for parts of it to be public. Writing a series of posts that address core issues not only allows me to reflect but also to share my own growth. The post that comes below is the first in that series.


Why do I lead? On the surface a pretty simple question, but once one starts to dig into the roots of his/her own leadership it can get rather lengthy. Let's take a stab at it. I lead to...

  • Help students learn
  • Help teachers learn
  • Connect communities and their schools
  • Promote equity and fairness
  • Foster learning as a process, not a product
  • Facilitate professional learning for ALL
  • Support parents in their role
  • Celebrate the positives, redirect the negatives, and soothe the hurt
  • Work to make sure that EVERY student, educator, and parent feels valued
See? This list is just a starting point. It sounds more like a sermon than a list. So I find myself looking to summarize my leadership purpose. After several weeks of reflecting on this single question I have come a simple conclusion. 

Why do I lead? I lead to build schools for them, by them.

In his book Rules of the Red Rubber Ball, Kevin Carroll, suggests that inside each of us is a passion statement - a driving force in what we do. The above statement is my passion statement (my red rubber ball). I lead because I believe that I have an opportunity to enact positive change. I lead because I want to empower "them," staff, students, parents, community members, to be better. I want to empower them to be their own leaders. I want to empower them to improve their school and their community. I want to empower them to build the school that serves them, not me. I want to empower them so that they can pass it on an empower others and change the world. That is why I lead. The school I serve is not about me. The school I serve is about them.  I lead to make sure it starts with them and ends with them. This is my purpose for leading. 

As I continue on my reflective journey my purpose for leading will be the center of my reflection. It is a chance to ensure that I continue to grow and stay true to the leader within. I hope that along the way some of you may jump in and join my journey. Together we are stronger, and your voice makes me better.