I blog about educational leadership, but the truth is leadership is leadership regardless the setting. Leaders are found in the classroom, on the football field, and in the pulpit. Leadership has always been intriguing to me. I have learned valuable lessons from some of the most unlikely people in areas outside of education.
I noticed that in the past couple of weeks, I have observed leadership issues around succession. A positive lesson was learned from a prominent pastor who began what seems to be a subtle succession plan. I have watched another leader in education who is very much ineffective and downright toxic. I have also watched a college football coach who has stayed a little too long at the post and has lost the team.
Observing the pastor was a welcomed sight and a great lesson in how to properly plan to turn the reigns over and take the time to mentor and prepare the successor for the role. Unfortunately, the other two examples are not positive. For the educator and the football coach, they both have had great successes in their careers and in their current organizations. However, at some point, their influence has waned. If they took the time to turn around and look behind them, they would realize that no one is following them. A leader without anyone following them is a man/woman simply taking a walk. These leaders have lost their followers and thus are ineffective.
The educator and the coach are filling a role in title, but the organization is not “winning”. They both are in a toxic environment, one in which they created. Most people in their organizations do not respect them and if the perfect opportunity should present itself, they would choose to follow someone else. These two people have failed to realize that it is time to move on and in return are killing their organizations.
Leaders must realize when it’s time to move on to their next challenge. This could be very difficult to accept, but is vitally important to their organization. Leaders must also understand that just because it’s time to move on doesn’t mean their career life is over. There are different seasons in our lives. The end of one could simply mean the beginning of another.
Thanksgiving is usually the time of year when we reflect on the many things for which we are thankful. It’s such a shame that we wait until this time to acknowledge the “good” things in our lives. I am just as guilty as I sit here and write this week’s blog… on giving thanks.
I am reminded of a time in my life when I was so very focused on who was not part of my cheerleading crew, that I was not appreciating those who were in my corner. I had earned my master’s degree while also playing the role of teacher, wife, mother, and active church member. It was a milestone I thought worthy of celebrating. A few people who I thought should be happy for me did not attend my graduation or graduation party. I was heartbroken. I felt that I was always there for this certain group of people and felt that they should have been there to celebrate my accomplishment.
I remember vividly God saying to me, “Have you stopped to appreciate those who WERE there for your celebration?” It hit me like a train. I immediately realized that I was so focused on who was not there that I was not appreciative of those who were. This was a life lesson for me. Don’t focus on the negative… only focus on the positive. No matter how bad things may be, you will always have things for which to be thankful.
With that lesson in mind, I am so very thankful for:
I challenge you to think of the true blessings in your life and give thanks… during Thanksgiving, but also throughout the year.
As a leader, you are no good to your team unless you are your best you. Oftentimes, we put all of our energy into making sure our team is doing well. We push our team members to reach their individual goals and help them become better. How much do you focus on YOU? This post is not about finding ways to relax and enjoy life. This post is about challenging you to take care of YOU.
If you are honest with yourself, many leaders are not able to answer “yes” to all of the questions above. Here are a few tips to help you get on track with being the best YOU.
If you know you can’t peel yourself away from work, make your annual appointments during school breaks. If going to the doctor for these visits are dauting for you, plan a reward for yourself. If you like to shop, plan an afternoon of shopping after your appointments. If you like to eat, plan a date with yourself at your favorite restaurant after your appointment. If you like going to the movies, take in a movie after your appointment. Basically, give yourself something to look forward to after you take care or your health.
Make a healthy lifestyle a priority. Plan your day to make sure you fuel yourself. Wake up a bit earlier, if need be, to make sure you have a well-balanced breakfast. Find the time in the day to stop and eat lunch. Lunch is probably the most missed meal by educational leaders. Figure out when your campus is generally on a “down time” and make that your lunch. You can also split lunch time amongst you and your APs. Take a chunk of time and designate it as lunch. Assign the time to each administrator while the other administrators cover duties. This will not only help you take the time to eat, it also helps you model to your assistant principals how important it is to stop and eat.
Find time, either in the morning or at the end of the day, to do some type of physical activity. Try different things until you find what you enjoy. Try taking a walk around your neighborhood, jogging at the neighborhood park, try taking a yoga or cross fit class at the local gym, or put on a dance workout video in the comforts of your home. The point is to get moving and get healthy.
Your brain and body cannot function unless it has rested. I know it is difficult sometimes to silence your mind and relax, but it is vitally important that you do so. Just as you do with young children, create an evening schedule for yourself. Give yourself time to do whatever your responsibilities are for your home. If you need to work at home, schedule that time and make sure you stop at your scheduled time. Find evening routines that help you unwind. It could be a long soothing bath, reading a book, or watching ratchet tv.
The message here is that YOU are important. My challenge for you this week is to conquer at least one of the tips above. Ready, set, go!
Paula Patterson is a Superintendent of Schools who shares practical points on leadership.