Motivational Speaker, Simon Sinek, has built a career on guiding organizations and organizational leaders on finding their purpose or “why”. Sinek argues that organizations that can articulate why they do things over what they do or how they do it are far more successful and that they are more appealing to their consumers. While his focus in on corporate structures or businesses, the same principles can apply in education as well.
Many teachers have a very clear understanding of why they are teachers. One might say that they want to make a difference in a child’s life. Some might speak to their content area and to pass along an area of expertise or passion. In my opinion, both of those areas speak to building relationships with students. And, schools or districts can offer why they offer certain programs over another or provide special services like free lunch depending on their demographics.
However, on a smaller scale, when teachers move into leadership roles, the why might feel a bit more difficult to discern. I doubt anyone signed up for administrative roles for losing their summers off and a little bit of a raise. In addition, being a school leader can also a bit disconnected from the students we serve at times, but a school can only be as successful as its leadership team. As with every aspect of an organization, leaders must also articulate their “why” to all of their constituents–faculty, students, and families.
Here are a few of my whys for transitioning and continuing to serve in leadership roles within schools:
- Relationships–Education is really all about fostering relationships with our constituents. It is personal. This doesn’t change when I get an office and a fancy title. My relationship dynamics might change, but my whole goal is to get to know my constituents on a personal level. It will help me serve them as a leader within the school. I also learn quite a bit about myself, and I enjoy challenging my perspectives by learning all sides of a story.
- Achieving a Common Goal–One of the beauties of working in an independent school is that we have the opportunity to truly shape the vision of our school. Public school districts might articulate strategic goals for a school as well. Once the vision or goal is established, I truly want to shape how we live it out. When I got my master’s in education, I thought I would pursue my Ph.D. in education. I wanted to teach the next generation of teachers how to teach. As a school leader, I have the opportunity to do just that. Through thoughtful feedback, well-planned team meetings, and in-service training, I can help facilitate a school’s growth and achievement.
- Managing Change–I was once told that being a leader of any type is really just about managing change. Schools change frequently, and I, personally, enjoy change. I am not great at the status quo. I enjoy looking for opportunities to change and grow, and I look forward to help others adjust and embrace that change. Being able to support a team through the process of change is why I chose to be a leader. I truly wanted to be a part of that process in every way.