Byron's Babbles

Know When To Follow

Posted in Education, Leadership, Learning Organization by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 10, 2012


I have always been a believer that we must lead from where we are. Everyone has a teachable point of view from which to contribute leadership to any opportunity. As a teacher, I always believed it was my responsibility to provide leadership for the school. For the last nine years of my teaching career I was blessed to have administrators who took my role as a teacher leader seriously. In turn, I took the role of providing street level situational awareness seriously.

Now, as a principal I realize that sometimes leading means following someone else’s lead and having others follow you down that path by supporting their efforts. It is about being in the middle of it, not directing, not dictating, and not doing it all. It is about creating leverage points, catapulting initiatives ahead and building people up in what they do and how they do it. It is about bringing people, actions, values, direction, and results all together to move forward! We must all get in the middle of the action when necessary to challenge, nudge, celebrate, and spur on teams and initiatives. It is not ceremonial lip service; it is real conversations, genuine acts.

One of my favorite things to say when making decisions in a collaborative environment is, “Tell me why I’m wrong?” And, if I am I want to know it! If we are to develop a functional learning organization it must be about facilitating open and honest discussions, putting reality on the table and actively working through it. We must all be about getting candid advice, absorbing it, and then acting on it. It is not malicious or spiteful, but it is spirited and critical to get the best information and counsel possible. I always want to know what our staff is thinking. They all come with tremendous teachable points of view.

Giving others the ability to lead from where they are is about giving people the freedom to innovate, create, and make things happen, aligned with the organization’s strategy, goals, objectives, and values. Along with the freedom to perform is the accountability to do the right things. It is not wishy-washy accountability; it is real, measurable accountability.

I strive to walk the talk by allowing our staff the ability to lead from within. I believe in having conversations with others – team members and mentors – to gain their perspectives, insights, and knowledge.

There is always room to grow and improve. The important thing is that we take the responsibility of leadership seriously. We must also remember to take this leadership role seriously no matter where we are in the organization. If you do, others will believe in you…that is the first step to creating the leadership rainbow others will follow to the pot of gold, which is a successful organization!

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