Today I had the pleasure of meeting with a good friend and mentor. She is like the big sister that I never had, and I feel so blessed that she is in my life. We both have served in ministry leadership. She served as the principal of a private Christian school, while I served as a Children’s Minister.
There were a few things that we agreed on concerning the difficulties of leadership.
1. Many leaders deal with a lot of negativity.– As a leader, whatever scope it as been–it seems that if the buck stopped with me, than complaints were the majority of communications that came my way. I believe that many leaders are selected because they are good listeners and they want to help others. They are solution minded, and people feel comfortable talking to them, which is good. However, it can also be emotionally draining on the leader. I know that one of the biggest mistakes that I made in ministry leadership was that I allowed too much conversation. I did not set enough boundaries. I let the negativity set into my consciousness. That was not good. I’ve realized since that I have control over my thoughts and that boundaries are good. So, as teachers seeking excellence, let’s try to bring positivity to the leaders in our lives. Be solution oriented. Keep a smile on our face, and bring the problems only when it is really on our hearts, and we can find no other way out.
2. We can’t all be chiefs— Let your leader–lead. There is an old saying, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” This saying can be tough to digest sometimes, but I think that there is a lot of wisdom in it. Sometimes we are called to lead, other times we are called to follow. As a ministry leader it was difficult to manage all the different personalities, and all their ideas and opinions for what needed to be done. The problem was mine though. In ministry, my vision was not strong enough. If I had had a strong vision and planned better than maybe I wouldn’t have had so many team members trying to be chiefs. Since then I have learned to be stronger, and understand that not everyone is going to be happy or even like me, and I’m ok with that. As a teacher I try to be solutions oriented, help, but trust the leaders to do their jobs, and know that they will trust me to do mine.
3. It’s really all about the kids— As PTO President, the principal would often tell me, “Whatever we strive to do, we must remember–it is all about the kids.” I internalized that bit of wisdom, and carry it with me as I plan my lessons, read articles, or how I approach the day. If a teacher upsets me for some reason, or even another student, I work to remind myself, “It’s all about the kids.” Yes, I want to be a great English teacher. Yes, I would like to be a leader in my field one day. However, I must use my students as my inspiration and guiding force. I want to come in looking sharp, so they will see that I cared enough about them to do so. I diligently plan lessons, not to win awards, but so they will have a top rate education. I don’t work hard to one-up the other teachers. I work hard, so my own children and my students knows what it means to persevere. I want to set the example for them. In the end, leadership for me is setting the example in ways that count–for my students.
So, let’s all remember these struggles, find ways to bring our best everyday, support our leaders the best we can, and use our students as the guiding force for our own instruction and leadership in the classroom.