“Anyone can run away; it’s super easy. Facing problems and working through them, that’s what makes you strong.”Unknown
With the infusion of social media into our everyday lives, along with educators using to connect and learn from others, the expectations in our own circumstances has been raised. Through sites like Connected Principals (full disclosure…this is a site that I created and which many contribute), the role of principal and how it is done in other organizations has become increasingly transparent. People have access to what leadership looks like, and many want more guidance to reach a higher level in their own careers. In working with many “high-flyers” both in and out of my organization, one of the consistent things that I see in all of them is the craving for mentorship. They tend to be “sponges” and want to soak in as much as they can, learn from it, and lead because of it. Often though, this mentorship can be lacking in their own situation and leaves a person with a couple of choices; leave or flounder. I would like to hope that every principal and superintendent is amazing, but as in every field, there are those that are lacking.
Make your intentions transparent
Some want to become a principal and some want to stay in the classroom their entire career and be the best teacher possible. Leadership is essential in growing both, yet often our goals are not known by those that we work with. Simply asking for a time to sit down from your leader and talk about what you would like to do or where you would like to go is the first step in getting to your next level. We often assume that our leadership does not know what we need, but sometimes the reason is because we have never had an open conversation and shared our aspirations. It is hard to be on the same page if we have no idea the direction.
Empowering your leader
Insecurity can lead to serious issues in both our personal and professional life, and leadership is a tough position that can really exponentiate those feelings. It doesn’t happen with all leaders, but it does happen. We often want to feel valued by our leadership, but how often do we try to show how we value the person above us in the chain of command? Simply asking questions such as, “what do you think?”, or “what would your suggestions be to get to the next level?”, shows that you value their opinion. Communication and relationships are always a two-way street and we have to treat them that way no matter the hierarchy.
Whether your are getting what you need in terms of mentorship from your own leader, an outside mentor is always beneficial. Not simply someone else in your building, but more important, someone outside. When we spend a lot of time in one place, we often become oblivious to the things that may jump out to others. A different perspective can help us grow and bring more leadership within our own organizations and be crucial in our own development. Asking advice, listening to stories, or sharing difficulties with someone else may help to open your eyes to new solutions that are not currently being brought into your line of sight.
I am blessed to have many great mentors within my own school division, but I often benefit from connecting to principals and superintendents from around the world to get a different viewpoint and to hopefully help my own growth. Many are not in my situation, but as we ask students to find solutions to their own problems, we need to do the same or ourselves. There will be no growth if all we do is complain that our current leadership is not cutting it; that is simply a waste of time. The best educators find a way to get the mentorship that they crave for their own growth in their current situation, or they leave and find it somewhere else. We always have choices.
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