Leadership Reflection Essay
Many years ago, as a first year teacher, I stumbled into an incredible opportunity, thanks in large part to an important mentor of mine. I was in my mid-twenties, had spent my first few years out of college leading trips for Outward Bound and was now finishing my first year of teaching Biology at a small boarding school on the coast of Maine. I built a fast friendship with a much more seasoned colleague of mine, an art teacher in his mid-fifties. He was unlike any art teacher I had ever met.
He would just as readily have his students painting portraits with oil on canvas as he would skillfully guide them to weld, blacksmith, construct fifty foot sculptures, rebuild old car engines or various other inspiring feats.
A Reflection on Leadership based on my experience with the LEADER Project
He had come to teaching later in his career and had a bit of disdain for the limits that others perceived. He and I would sit up at night and talk about creating a program for our 9th graders that engaged them in self-discovery and would be centered on understanding our surroundings and our place within it. The two of us, and a third inspiring colleague of ours, went on to launch a program we called the Kennebec Journey.
We had convinced the administration to allow us to create an entire year of curriculum and programming for the 9th grade; the start of each academic day until sports was ours to design and lead. We began the year by taking a journey, partly on land and partly by boat, from Moosehead Lake in North Central Maine to the ocean, at the mouth of the Kennebec River.
We explored the rich history of the native people of the area, the early European settlers who tried and failed to settle the Popham Colony, and those who call the area home today. We learned about the ecosystem of the Kennebec River watershed and read literature from the region. We created a learning experience over the course of the year that existed outside the walls of the classroom more than inside. We had students relying on each other, resolving conflicts, exploring big ideas and developing a sense of confidence, not only in their intellect, but also in their practical abilities and interpersonal skills.
We imbedded projects like woodworking and joinery, using only the tools that would have been available to the Popham Colony settlers and had students construct basic cabins that they ultimately slept in as they studied what life was like for those early pioneers. Students helped archeologists excavate artifacts from the Colony itself.
That year was among the most difficult of my life. For as much success as we experienced, there were equal amounts of failure. At times, we definitely bit off more than we could chew. Simultaneously, it was an incredible success, and the learning that happened has inspired my career since. At some point during that year, I went to a conference and after hearing an inspiring speaker reflect on having spent his career creating innovative educational programs, I managed to get a minute with him afterwards to ask him for advice.
I wanted something specific to bring back, something that seemed within reach — and sleep did not. I have since come to realize how important that advice was to sustaining a program, rather than just envisioning one. Each of us moved on from that school soon thereafter and the program ended with our departure. I reflected on this experience when I first came to Derryfield and was asked to help create a comprehensive leadership program. By all accounts, Derryfield has done an incredible job of developing students as leaders throughout its year history, and like other great independent schools, Derryfield has always supported a dedicated and talented group of faculty who care deeply about kids.
Good people and good programs already existed, so we focused initially on defining our goals and strategically aligning our human resources to meet them. Early on, we faced a lot of misconceptions about what we were aiming to do, what such a program would look like or achieve, and what it would mean for teachers. We had to make the case to students, parents, and faculty for why leadership development is for everyone. We began with a somewhat vague, but ambitious, idea in a strategic plan.
Five years later, Leading for the Common Good is now a robust, comprehensive, and continuously expanding program that exists throughout the school. Every student in the school is engaged in it and a growing number of faculty and administrators help to facilitate its many components. Several of my colleagues have led the way from then until now, most notably Danielle Llewelyn, who was hired in into a newly created role as the Director of Student Leadership and Service.
In addition to helping lead this initiative, she also teaches and advises, but we were able to protect a portion of her role to really focus on clarifying and advancing a vision that was coming increasingly into focus. How long does it take to build a comprehensive leadership development program in schools?
It depends, but it will never be complete. From the onset, we knew we had to make a commitment to this work and advocated for professional development funds to send two or three people to the gcLi Leadership Lab each year. We ultimately secured those funds by being awarded an Edward E.With great power comes great responsibility, and great responsibility calls for regular reflection upon who we are as leaders and how we are growing.
Sure, there are challenges and obstacles; some difficult days among the good. But the honour of being at the forefront of a team that is working towards a meaningful and impactful vision for the future is priceless. Their tireless commitment and dedication serve as a daily reminder that, no matter how tough things might get, you can overcome any challenge when you have the right people at your side.
And just as we leaders expect certain standards from our people, our position calls on us to hold ourselves to even greater standards.
This is an imperative for all leaders if they wish to be successful in their industry and truly make a difference to others. Regular periods of self-reflection are needed to ensure that we are heading in the right direction with regard to empowering our people, making progress towards our vision, and creating a legacy that is sustainable over the long-term.
Different leaders will have different approaches to how they reflect. This is a great starting point; however, being accessible should go way beyond being physically available. We also need to ask questions such as: Am I listening enough to people? Have I been making an effort to show my genuine appreciation of their contributions? One of the most courageous acts a leader can perform is to seek honest and constructive feedback on their performance.
This can be done, for example, in formal group settings, or informally as part of a series of one-to-one conversations over coffee.
With this in mind, leaders should actively seek out suggestions on how they could improve. Self-assessment can be a tricky beast, given the various biases we each possess as defence mechanisms against criticism.
To help the process, I like to put myself in the shoes of different colleagues and try to rate myself as they might, as honestly as I can. From there, if there are any issues, I ask myself why they exist and how I might move to address them.
Taking this approach enables me to work on developing the best possible relationships with everyone I work alongside. He believes that everyone can be a leader and make a dent in the universe, in their own special ways. You can also email him at roshan. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam.
Learn how your comment data is processed. Be a Leader. Prefer an e-mag reading experience? This article is also available in our 22nd September digital issue. Roshan Thiran. Leave a Reply Cancel reply. All rights reserved.He was an elderly man whose face had life written all over it. He sat drinking tea as he reflected on his life:.
When I was young, I was full of fire and I wanted to awaken everyone. I prayed for enough strength to change the world. In midlife, I awoke one day to realize my life was half over and I had changed no one.
And now, here I am a very old man, and my prayer today is very simple.
I pray for the strength to at least change myself. Whether you call it prayer, meditation, or some other name, you can each learn something every day by asking these questions and reflecting on the answers.
Until you identify your authentic self, it is difficult to effectively lead. When you make a conscious commitment to know yourself, develop yourself, learn about yourself, you are allowing yourself to change step by step.
Knowing yourself is a process that can only take place internally. There is an amazing sense of empowerment that comes when you identify what you are meant to do.
It grows out of learning what matters most to you. Once you have it, it provides direction and focus, it brings clarity, it establishes goals. It helps you achieve results and stay connected to meaningful thought and action. As Michael Jackson sang, if you want to make this world a better place, take a look at yourself and make the change. Who you are going to be is rooted in your talents and skills and fueled by your passion. The essence of leadership is not in telling of others what to do, but in being your best self and inspiring those around you to do the same.
Lead From Within : Most of us want to make the world a better place. To do so, we must start within ourselves, where we are, making one change at a time, and we must not stop reflecting until we are done.Jump to navigation. Frank discusses luck in terms of wealth and success:. He leads groups that provide desktop computing support and help desk services. He is also interim director of the Teaching, Learning, and Scholarly Technologies group.
Monday, January 25, I hope everyone had a good weekend. And then digging out again once the wind had settled down and the snow drifts ended. I cannot begin to describe how sore I am and how strong my desire to buy a snow blower is now. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Before I started the leadership journey, I was doing a lot of just that. Wasting a lot of my time and mind focusing on the immediate, the unimportant, the routine tasks that certainly were not going to make a significant difference in creating, influencing, or advancing the strategic mission and goals of the university.
After graduation in August I was armed with a binder full of new ideas, concepts, practices and formulas on how to be an effective leader. I found it easy to be intentional during the program which was fueled by my own enthusiasm and frequent and very useful check-ins from my coaches.
New actions and practices became part of my routine and clearly validated what we had learned during our sessions together. I was feeling good and well on my way to being a more effective leader! Transformed and my mission accomplished!! Before the winter break, I spent some time considering who would make a great example of leadership for my reflection. I kept coming back to the idea of describing my friend David, who was once a colleague of mine at another university.
At the end of October, I returned to my alma mater, Earlham College, for homecoming festivities, Alumni Council meetings, and related events. I am constantly looking for new leadership lessons. When I am a student or trainee, I observe how the instructor structures the class, presents information, and keeps the room engaged. As a sports fan, I pay attention to how a coach organizes the team, creates energy toward a shared goal, and adapts to change. Over the last year, I have had one of the richest opportunities as my wife and I began raising our first child, Winnie, who recently turned one.
My reflection is around a change in behavior and stretching out of my comfort zone. Feedback is truly the gift that keeps giving. This opportunity presented itself the day after I returned to the office in fact! Thankfully I was better focused, refreshed and better prepared with new ideas and self-prompted different ways of thinking that allowed me to respond in a different way than I normally would.
MOR Insight. Leadership Program Reflection. By: Leadership Part Read post.Develop the skills you need to become a force for change in schools, school systems, and educational organizations.
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Director, Programs in Education Leadership. Degree Programs. Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership. Learn More. Summer Principals Academy. Urban Education Leaders Program. More Events. View As View as grid View as list. Request Info Apply Now. View Degree Page.When I first walked into School Leadership, I was uncertain of what to expect and excited for the opportunity to work alongside many educators with aspirations similar to myself.
Not having the experience in the classroom that my other classmates had, I was constantly learning about the many factors that educators had to address.
All of the topics in class allowed me to reflect on my experiences as a school leader and as a future educator. There were many different themes within the class, from various stories and backgrounds, different options in regard to decision making, determining right from wrong, as well as creating our own leadership signature.
One of the major and most important themes I was introduced to during this class, was the various types of leadership roles each individual can relate to. Roles with distributive leadership, connective leadership, servant leadership and instructional leadership were described. Each leadership role was introduced with examples of various ways to provide leadership for the individuals around us.
For me personally, I corresponded best with servant leadership. Servant Leadership is understood as being a servant first to the people and putting people first regardless of the situation. There was a statement that spoke to me and the current role I am in now; The leader who serves, in the end, touches people directly. Being a resident director here at the college, constantly addressing situations with students and making sure they are safe in this environment, corresponds with the values of a servant leader.
As a resident director it is our job to acknowledge concerns the students have and make sure they are comfortable as student in our community.
Servant leadership stresses the importance of having a realistic vision and including the people of the school in that vision. Throughout this class we discussed how important a mission and vision statement is for any school. The most important factor is to get everyone to participate, from students to teachers to administrators. These four frameworks touch on the political frame, human resources, structural frame, and the symbolic frame.
Each frame puts in perspective how important it is to look at things from every angle and how each angle affects people in various ways. Identifying how the decision affects the people corresponds with the human resources frame, how the building will be affected as a whole corresponds with the structural frame, understanding how each decision will affect each individual and the deeper hidden meaning is the symbolic frame and lastly, the legalities and outside perception is the political frame.
I could easily relate to the frames presented by Bolman and Deal in my current role as a resident director.
These frames taught us as a class how important it is to gather any and all information when dealing with any given situation. This class has provided me with some helpful tools to be the best school leader I can be. Every effort would be made to be sure that a student in the school community should feel included and accepted for being who they are.
Your email address will not be published. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.The development of leadership skills is very important because they help to achieve both personal and professional success.
At the same time, often people faces difficulties with the development of their leadership skills and abilities. In this regard, it is important to focus on the development of an effective leadership style that can help an individual in their professional and personal development.
The development of leadership skills should be an integral part of education of students because students should learn different leadership roles.
The latter will help students to be flexible, while applying their leadership skills and abilities and they will be able to use the most effective leadership style. Thus, students will be effective leaders. As for me, I am currently inclined to use transformational leadership style, which I believe to be particularly effective in the health care environment where I am currently working in.
Today, the role of leaders is extremely important for the successful performance of various organizations. At the same time, the effective application of leadership qualities highly depends on the approach used by leaders to their associates and subordinates. Among the variety of approaches existing in the contemporary business environment, transformational leadership is one of the most popular and widely spread approaches, which is considered by many specialists Northouse, as highly prospective.
In this respect, it is important to underline that the transformational leadership has not only benefits but it may have certain risks which can threaten to the normal development and performance of the organization, where this approach is applied. The backbone of the transformational approach is making an organization more successful by valuing associates of the leader.Movie: A leader's process of self-awareness and reflection
In such a way, the leader is able to develop positive relationships with his or her associates and, thus, improve the organizational culture at large. The importance of positive interpersonal relations between the contemporary leader and his or her associates can hardly be underestimated because the role of human resources has increased consistently in the contemporary business environment and, today, human resources constitute a significant asset of any organization.
At the same time, through the development of positive interpersonal relationships with associates, the contemporary leader can implement the full potential of his or her leadership because associates, being highly valued by the leader, grow more confident in the leader and, simultaneously, they feel more responsible for their own performance. To put it more precisely, the associates do their best to maintain the positive performance in order to avoid changing the attitude of the leader and to feel valued by the leader Dessler, In such a way, the associates are conscious of their importance to the organization and its leader.
Furthermore, along with the growing responsibility of the associates, their productivity and effectiveness of their work grow too that also produces a positive impact on the development and performance of the organization. In such a way, the transformational approach can be use effectively used in order to improve the relationship of the leader and his or her subordinates and to improve the performance of the organization.
However, it is necessary to remember about certain risks that accompany the implementation of the transformational approach. To put it more precisely, the transformational leader can face a problem of the adequate treatment of him or her as a leader.
What is meant here is the fact that often transformational leaders are perceived by their associates as personalities above all, while their leadership position is treated as secondary compared to their personal traits Hesselbein and Cohen, As a result, the leader can undermine his or her authority as a leader, while his or her personal qualities become of the utmost importance for his or her relationship with the associates.
Also, the application of the transformational approach may lead to the abuse of power. Using the transformational approach the leader can use his or her power to manipulate his or her assoicates, forcing them to do tasks as a personal service to the respectable leader. Alternatively, the associates can use their good relationship with the in their own interest to achieve personal goals.
Such effects of the use of transformational approach may produce a negative impact on the performance of the entire organization. Nevertheless, the aforementioned difficulties the transformational leader can encounter while applying the transformational approach, it is still possible to overcome all these problems through the use of various factors that can be applied in terms of the transformational approach. To put it more precisely, the transformational leader can have an idealized influence on his or her associates.
In such a context, the leader is an exemplary model for his or her associates and it is up to the leader what model his or her associates learn. In other words, if the transformational leader does not abuse the power and shows a positive example than his or her associates are likely to follow this positive example and they are likely to follow his or her model of behavior in their professional work. At the same time, it is important for a leader to keep distance between him or her and his or her associates in order to maintain formal relationship.
However, in spite of all my efforts to use transformational leadership style, I still face certain difficulties with the implementation of this leadership style in my professional work. In this respect, I should say that I am inclined to the authoritarian leadership style and I have to cope with my internal inclinations to develop new, more effective leadership style. In addition, I am working in quite stressful environment that raises certain barriers to the development of the transformational leadership style.