Empower me and I’ll lead…
Posted June 11, 2013on:
How do we encourage leadership? Its a question any organisation will need to face up to and answer. Schools are fertile ground for leaders. We have classrooms chock full of leadership potential. Both teachers and students. So just how do we encourage and foster potential leadership talent in our schools and colleges? We empower individuals to take ownership of their lives, their careers, their ambitions, hopes dreams and of their learning.
I used to work in a school for a Headteacher who was incredibly good at empowering teachers. She knew she didn’t have enough promoted posts (department or faculty head vacancies) but she still found a way to encourage leadership by getting teachers to lead specific projects. Its how I started my own education leadership career. She would arrange and encourage teachers to undertake additional qualifications which enhanced their leadership potential. But most of all, she made you feel valued as a member of the school learning community. I gave her a copy of Seth Godin’s book, Tribes because I felt that she’d really got the whole empowering people thing beautifully. Well….Thank you, Anne Marie. I know you are still doing this sort of work, encouraging everybody to realise their own individual potential.
How else? well, a vision for the organisation which is clear,concise, understandable and attractive leads to a greater buy-in from everybody involved. Its got to be communicated well. This gives that sense of ownership, and involvement, changing people from just bystanders to stakeholders. Its vital to set clear goals and responsibilities for everybody involved, but the key to having real engagement is to empower all your people, teachers or students, to make decisions on their own. Ensure that they are comfortable and confident to ask questions, suggest new ideas or even taking a different approach that may fail. The confidence to fail will lead to knowledge and longer-term success.
Clarity and trust are important. Trust is the fuel which powers emerging leaders, and the clarity of vision is the pathway along which these leaders grow and flourish. If you give people the authority to fail, they become more used to risk-taking. These sorts of leaders inspire others to follow and become leaders themselves. After all, the real test of a truly effective leader is not just to gain followers, but create new leaders.
But remember, whilst some people may develop great leadership skills almost naturally when given the chance,others may need a little push to get them started. Encourage everybody by creating an inclusive atmosphere in which everybody is encouraged to shine. And success is not the end, of the road,or ‘job done’, its a journey. I can’t remember where I read this but one of the best things I’ve read in a long while is about excellence being an attitude, not a destination.
This, to me is the attitude we need to encourage in our learners, be they teachers or students, by empowering them to learn, to not fear failure, and to succeed, and realise their own leadership potential.