Being an administrator is hard work. I tried my best, and although I know people thought I did a great job, some people didn’t. I understood this but it doesn’t mean it didn’t (doesn’t) bother me.
As I have talked about before, what I always tried to focus on was the question, “What is best for kids?” Sometimes people were not happy with some of my decisions, but if I believed that at the end of the day the decision that was made was in the best interest of the students we served, I could sleep at night.
This was not that I ignored criticism or opportunities for growth. I am very reflective on the work that I do, always trying to do better, knowing that I am striving to be the best that I can be, knowing that this goal is always slightly out of reach. Leaders that focus on their ideas, are usually weak leaders. Leaders that focus on the best ideas, no matter where they come from, are the ones that make real change happen.
Yet in this age of social media, we can be disheartened quickly by people that are quick to criticize, not necessarily to give feedback. If you go look at the site, “Rate My Teacher”, you will find some of the best teachers you know with a plethora of negative ratings. Does this mean they are bad? Not necessarily.
Think about human nature…we are often quicker to complain openly, than praise in the same manner. If you have nine great experiences with an airline, and one negative, which one are you more likely to post to Facebook? For someone who flies as much as I do, I have many negative experiences with travel, yet I purposefully do not post it online (and I am SOOOOOOO tempted sometimes). Why would I do something that I would not like being done to me? This does not mean that you can’t criticize ideas, it is just to be thoughtful of your delivery and the relationship with the person receiving the challenge. I am more comfortable getting criticized from those that have acknowledged my value, not only my shortcomings. I know they have my back.
As I received an email today from someone who was discouraged with some aspects of leadership, this was my advice:
Keep doing what is best for kids, and others will follow. Being a principal doesn’t make you a leader, just like not being a principal doesn’t mean you aren’t a leader. Any position can have influence in a positive direction.
Be humble, build relationships, focus on doing what’s best for kids. The more you focus on that, the more awesome you will become at what you do, and the more it will spread and influence others to make positive changes to do better for kids. That is true leadership and it can come from any position.
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