Showing posts sorted by relevance for query humility. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query humility. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Effective Leadership- Got Humility?

Effective leadership is about people- always. Without the faith of your followers, a leader you are not.
If you fail to honor your people,
They will fail to honor you;
It is said of a good leader that
When the work is done, the aim fulfilled,

The people will say, "We did this ourselves.

Lao Tzu, , 604-531 B. C., Founder of Taoism, Tao Te Ching

I can't think of a simpler concept in leadership, or one that would be considered more practical and authentic. In the measured contexts of our everyday lives as leaders, all teachers, whether they like it or not, are called upon to serve; primarily our students, but also each other, our student's parents and the learning community we are an integral part of. In humbly putting the needs of others ahead of our own as leaders, we honor them. The appreciation we receive as a result pays dividends as our followers are empowered to feel strong and supported in their important work. I strive as a leader to let good people do their work with my full endorsement, intervening only when they seek my assistance.

A former superintendent in my district said once that as a leader, you stand in front when things need defending and in back when they need celebrating... servant leadership in a nutshell. Servant leadership requires a good dose of humility to be effective, and the humility of great leaders resonates with people and inspires them to also be humble and supportive in their own leadership; to do whatever it takes to push others upward and hold them in high regard... to choose to see what's right with people.

Ben and Rosamund-Beth Zander refer to it as "giving people an A" in their book, "The Art of Possibility;" a game changer for me professionally and personally. The authors emphasize that, "giving an A is a fundamental, paradigmatic shift toward the realization that all is invented." Alas, all is invented. The lens we look through is ours alone, and it affects the way we see every other person, and every interaction we have with them. We don't even have to know what others perspectives are to initiate an open and collaborative exchange with them; we just have to know that they all have one, and most importantly, be willing to listen to it.

The humble leader thinks deeply about perspective and how it affects the equilibrium of interdependency critical to success within any functional relationship. We have to truly listen to our followers; to put aside our bias and personal perspectives to consider that there may be other ways, perhaps better ways to move our organizations forward productively and positively. The Zander's understand that when we give people an A we can be open to a perspective different from our own, For after all, it is only to a person to whom you have granted an A that you will truly listen, and it is in that rare instance when you have ears for another person that you can truly appreciate a fresh point of view.

Even the most cynical among us are susceptible to this approach. Ben Zander explains a paradoxical element to giving people an A when he says that "a cynic, after all, is a passionate person who does not want to be disappointed again." So let's not disappoint our people; let's give them all an A and strive, as the Zander's suggest, to speak to their passion, not their cynicism.

To a person, everyone of us has been shaped and formed by the variables of time and experience, and as a result we have our own personal reality tunnels; those perspectives that guide our judgments, our actions and our relationships. Humble leaders understand this, and even more importantly they understand that the private logic within all of us will affect the dynamics of every interpersonal relationship we are challenged by.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Reflective Leadership...

flickr image via flickrPrince

The principal is an accomplished teacher who practices quality leadership in the provision of opportunities for optimum learning and development of all students in the school.

My teaching career has led me in many unanticipated and diverse directions. The experiences I have had, and the lessons I have learned along this journey are the platform of my skill-set and knowledge as a professional teacher and educational leader. I believe that more often than not, the path chooses us.

I have taught at least one subject to kids from grades one through ten. I taught a first and second grade split class during my first year teaching at Tall Cree Indian Reserve in northern Alberta. From that jump-off point I continued my growth and development as a teacher for five years in grades three to six within two other Aboriginal communities. I moved to Red Deer and joined the Alternative School Programs in my seventh year of teaching. I worked with grades six to ten over the next eight years within two different segregated programs addressing severe student behavior. I completed my Masters Degree in Leadership (focus on school counseling,) during this period. I then took a position as a counselor for what turned out to be one year at the middle school level. At this point my direction shifted once again, and I was fortunate to become a school administrator at Mattie McCullough Elementary School.

With every teaching and administrative position I have held, I have assumed different formal and informal leadership roles designed to optimize learning and development opportunities for all students. Additionally, I have assumed leadership roles throughout my career putting me in a position to support the ongoing and purposeful professional development of my teaching colleagues and beyond as a conference speaker, workshop writer, blogger and author.

This reflection summarizes my teaching experiences, my personal professional growth and my perspective as a learner and teacher relative to the leadership dimensions contained within Alberta Education’s Principal Quality Practise Guideline. These are the elements that form the foundation of my practise as an educational leader. Over the course of my career I have formulated a set of personal beliefs that guide my practise. Many, if not all of these beliefs, permeate my life away from school in ubiquitous ways also. I will reference these as “I believe” statements where appropriate throughout this reflection.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Engaging Classrooms II

Rule of Engagement #2: Listen to students... if you want them to listen to you. Engaging groups of learners teach each other.

flickr photo via denise carbonell

Some time ago I wrote a post called Engaging Classrooms Manage Themselves. At the time I committed to more on the topic. In a Twitter dialog at #speakchat last week I was reminded of my commitment hence this second installment. By the way, if you're a teacher and you haven't visited #speakchat, it's a fantastic weekly chat to pick up creative tips from others who predominantly speak to audiences of adults; a challenging adventure. (If you've provided professional development for other teachers you know how difficult it can be speaking engagingly to adults.)

As the #speakchat exchange centered around speaking in engaging ways, I began thinking that the quickest way to lose an audience is to focus the conversation on one speaker... I have yet to participate in a successful dialog, with one or many, where participants remain engaged without the opportunity to contribute. Then Todd Whitaker tweeted this point...


Sean Grainger
 Sean Grainger 
@ToddWhitaker Totally agree... speakers do that by appreciating audience's input/valuing their knowledge and respecting their experience. 

There is nothing worse than an arrogant speaker who approaches dialog as if he was the only one who had anything worthwhile to say. I have attended these lectures before and it is not fun, or engaging. Speakers who suffer from Humility Deficit Disorder have a hard time engaging their audience.

On the other hand, speakers who look to their audience as a group of people with knowledge and expertise that will enhance the conversation more often than not grab the lion's share of their attention. Truly skilled speakers are those who understand they just might come up against an audience member someday who can make them look pretty silly as they project an arrogant tone like "I am the one who knows here, so sit back, listen and learn from me as I blow you mind with my vast knowledge and expertise." That quiet person who knows more and has done more than the speaker will occasionally feel compelled to speak up, and at that point, the sage on the stage is out there, vulnerable and searching for his next move. That's a tight bind to stick-handle out of. Humble pie anyone?

So why not view your audience as an asset as opposed to a liability? Why not view it as a resource providing knowledge and experience instead of just a receiver of your knowledge and experience? 

The best way to speak engagingly is to temper how much you speak... let the audience in on the show.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mastery is a Myth

We need to challenge individuals by continuously raising the learning bar- mastery in learning is a myth.

Learning is continuous growth fueled by wonderment leading to discovery.When we place arbitrary benchmarks on any learning continuum, and then deem one on the high end of the continuum to be mastery, we do a disservice to learning. The most profoundly intelligent among us are those who understand implicitly that they have everything to learn. The term mastery by definition connotes exactly the opposite of this idea...
-mastery [ˈmɑːstərɪ]
n pl -teries
1. full command or understanding of a subject
2. outstanding skill; expertise
3. the power of command; control
4. victory or superiority
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003
With the exception perhaps of definition number two, mastery in the context of learning seems to connote control, command, power and superiority; elements contrary to the idea that no matter how much we think we know, pushing the parameters of discovery requires curiosity, humility and the perspective that there are no limits to how much we can learn.

There are no objective definitions of failure, therefore there should be no objective definitions of success. In learning, mastery is a myth.
Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog


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