An Influential Leader

“There are two ways of being creative. One can sing and dance. Or one can create an environment in which singers and dancers flourish." (Warren Bennis)

The leader who most influenced my life was an administrator who always pushed me to be better, by questioning me and causing me to reflect on my practice. By doing so, this individual also helped me to identify my strengths, and encouraged me to use those strengths to continually improve. Amazingly, his influence was very subtle, his questioning skilled; so much so, that it often left me feeling like I had come up with innovative ideas and next steps all on my own.

He was a very effective communicator who genuinely cared about the people in his school. He ensured that everyone felt supported, and valued. One of the things I admired most about this person was that he could be counted on to remain calm and steady, regardless of what was going on around him. No matter how busy he was, he took the time to be in classrooms, every day. While there, he talked to the students, and connected with them, remembering to ask them personal things about their lives.

One was never in doubt of what he stood for and believed in, and the fact that student achievement and well-being were at the center of all of his decisions.

When the staff asked him about purchasing a resource, his strategy would be to question the purpose for the resource: what "data" makes us think we need this resource? How will it be used to improve student achievement? How will we know if it's making a difference? If we could answer these questions, he would purchase the resource.

This individual was an administrator prior to the days of collaborative inquiries, yet he encouraged his staff to work together. He often provided teachers with extra planning time so that they could meet with each other, and visit each other's classrooms. He was very aware of the strengths and needs of the teachers, and, although I didn't realize it at the time, would often suggest professional learning opportunities that helped me to move out of my comfort zone, and grow.

The result of this leader's influence on me was that he left me feeling, each day, like I wanted to be a better educator than I was the day before. He was truly a transformative leader.

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