I have recently spent a little time going through all of the files of my computer and trying to put them in better order, giving them a spring cleaning if you will. I started reading through some of the things I wrote for my Masters Degree that I did through Gonzaga University a few years ago. While most of the writing is too long to share on a blog (particularly my capstone project on Literature Circles), I came across a short piece that I decided to share. We were asked to write a short (for a graduate paper) belief statement on what we think school leadership should be. I discovered in re-reading it, that my perspective hasn’t changed all that much. While I may choose to word sections slightly differently, it still holds the core of how I feel about school leadership. I would love to hear your perspective. Perhaps things I have forgotten, or that you don’t agree with.
I believe that the best leader is the one you don’t notice; just as in sports, the best referees are the ones that no one is talking about after the game. I believe that the best leader is measured not by his results, but by the results of those he leads. I believe that the best leader is the one that brings forth the best questions, not the best answers.
In order to make this vision a reality, it is key find a shared direction, or mission. Only once this direction is clear can people begin to move forward together. It allows everyone to speak a common, positive, supportive language. By having this clear sense of mission, a leader is able to lead without being the focal point of everything that is going on. The key focal point of a school truly should be the students.
As much as it sounds contradictory, one of the most important marks of leadership is to give authority away. Everyone in a school needs to feel that they have important contributions to make. This builds confidence to act independently and make decisions. By empowering others to act, it builds the capacity of the school to serve others.
Questions, not answers are the key to a school’s success. With all members of a school sharing this “questing” spirit, they not only tackle current problems, but bring up new, worthwhile questions. This spirit promotes innovation and creativity, while pursuing the best possible education for the students that we serve.
Leadership is service. It is getting the most out of the people that you lead so that they in turn can be, to the fullness of their capacity, of service to the most important people in a school, the students.