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What does it take to be a great leader?

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What is a great leader?  This is a difficult question to answer because great leaders have a difficult time giving themselves credit.  Their underlying theme for success is always directed to their players if they are coaches, to their personnel if they are corporate leaders, and to their students and staff if they are school administrators.  Each day is a step toward improvement that includes many failures.  Therefore, it is important to have a great leader to aid in these improvements.

Being an administrator involves not only managerial duties but more importantly leadership skills.  Former Secretary of State Colin Powell once stated the “Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible.”  There is a distinct difference between management and leadership  Management tends to focus on maintaining existing relationships and order and leadership is about taking risks, striking out in new directions, creating visions, tapping imaginations, changing the way people think, and creating excitement about working with children and communities.  Even though an important aspect of an administrator’s job is management, management skills and time are no longer sufficient to meet the escalating challenges and demands in education.  Furthermore, the effectiveness of a leader’s behaviors will be more optimal if the behaviors give teachers choices and discretion, foster non-threatening interaction, provide evidence of authentic interest, and allow for ‘pleasing the administrator.’ In addition to the before-mentioned characteristics, leadership would prosper if it (1) is willing to understand and promote leadership development at a systematic level but be able to act at a local level,  (2) bases efforts on the understanding that leadership development differs from management development because you can be appointed to positions of management, but you must earn leadership positions, and (3) customizes leadership development of individuals and teams to be effective at the local level.

Leadership needs to be an attitude that is set by example.  This is obtained by doing what is right, challenging yourself and those you influence, and being consistent in what you believe yet willing to hear all the options.

Blogger:  Todd Whitlock, Todd has been at North Daviess Community Schools for 15 years. He has served as a classroom teacher and is currently the Technology, Curriculum, and Testing Coordinator. He holds a building level and superintendent’s license as well. Todd was recognized as the TechPoint 2012 Bridge Builder Award Recipient and the 2008 winner for contributions to K-12 education and was recognized as a National School Board Association (NSBA) “20 to Watch” school leader.  Todd is one of the Co-Founders of Standard For Success and you can find more information about SFS and Todd at www.standardforsuccess.com.

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