Why leadership? What exactly does it even mean to be a leader? Well, according to Peter G. Northouse, PhD., Professor of Communication (emeritus) in the School of Communication at Western Michigan University, Leadership is defined as, “… a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal.” Northouse suggests that leadership is a process, involves influence, occurs in groups, and involves common goals. As “textbook” as this definition and explanation are, they are nearly precise.
Goals are important in leadership, however, they should be collaborative. Being a leader doesn’t mean that you have to be in charge, be loud, or be theatrical. On the contrary, leadership is not a solo act, rather, a collective effort in which all of the stakeholders play a major role in determining what is best for a school community. Good leaders take and provide responsibility to others so that members feel like they are part of a meaningful, goal-oriented team. While there are times that a leader must wear many different hats and play a myriad of roles, it is important to be true to who you are as a leader and know that leading is a team effort.
Each school has its own unique vision, values, and culture. In order to be a strong leader in a new community you have to take the time to know that community. This means assessing the data that currently exists and determining where change needs to be made. As well, leaders have to take the time to communicate with, not to, those around them and get to know the current culture of the school by asking questions and observing the environment. Getting to know the teachers and staff and determining who are the leaders and followers is important in creating groups and buy-in within a school when new leaders enter. In other words, leadership is situational and dependent upon the community as it already exists.
Leadership is about improving, changing, and creating a place where students can learn best. It is done through collaboration and communication by the staff, teachers, administrators, students, families, and the community. Leading is about finding areas of need and transforming the problem into a solution. Creating shared values and vision help to create a community of growth, which in turn, creates students who are academically able to reach his or her potential. Using data to determine the best vision and needs of the students and community help to ensure a vision is fulfilled. Sure, there will be potholes along the way. But, by creating supportive conditions and shared leadership roles, the potholes can be repaired. Being positive, communicating, and reinforcing the agreed upon ideals ensures that the community will grow together.
So, do you think you could be a great leader? Are you a collaborative team player who works well with others to achieve common goals? Are you a person who can lead a vision into completion? Are you patient and willing to give up control when needed? If you are an aspiring leader, ask yourself these questions. Even though there are different types of leaders, one thing is common, and that is “the goals.” What are the different types of leadership? Well… that is for my next blog.
With you in leadership,
Lindsay Augustyniak Csogi
Middle School Teacher, Sarasota County Schools, F.L.
M.A., Reading and Language Arts, Rider University
M.A., Educational Leadership, Public Schools K-12, U.S.F
Northouse, P.G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and Practice (6th edition). SAGE Publications, New Delhi, India.