REFLECTION ON LEADERSHIP
Over the past 25 years of my teaching career, it would be safe to suggest that leadership has significantly changed and along with it, my attitude and response not only to those in leadership roles but also to my own readiness to take on leadership challenges.
Leadership requires strength of character, foresight, commitment, excellent communication and interpersonal skills. As my readings continued over the past few weeks, I began to wonder how many of these skills were innate, embedded within an individual’s personality and how many were taught. If they were innate skills then only a few could lead and if they were taught skills then everyone could lead. I have come to the conclusion that a good leader is a combination of both innate and taught qualities.
A school library is an ever-changing entity. It is a micro-environment within the school environment and at the forefront of changes in both educational and societal realms. Whether it is the government of the day bringing in new policies, a new curriculum, or sourcing reference materials to better suit the clientele of the school, it is the teacher-librarian (TL) who must have knowledge of processes and procedures and be ready to implement them.
As with all successful leadership, a purposeful and clear vision for the future must be presented and interpersonal skills utilised to lead and manage possibly large numbers of people (Kotter,2013). However in order for a vision to move forward, we must first decide what ‘forward’ looks like (Ferrier, 2013). We must be leaders by way of mentors, consistently and persistently (Aguilar 2013) collaborating and communicating our vision for the library and the education presented within its walls. Developing students who are ‘knowledge-society’ ready (Hargreaves, 2007) and who understand how information is developed and translated in a technical age requires a great deal of vision on the TL’s behalf and consequently a great deal of commitment to continuous improvement and cultivation of consensus across staff.
This requires casting off old assumptions about leadership and who can lead (Donaldson 2007) and replacing them with a new version of leadership, one which is embracive of mobilizing and empowering others, effectively building teams which inevitably assist in improving the educational practices and focuses within the library. For me, this type of leadership aligns itself closely with the values and attributes of a Transformational leader, inspiring others to be at their best, by way of mentoring and delegative empowerment.
I believe leadership is really about connecting to individuals, building relationships on strong foundations of mutual respect and open and authentic dialogue. When problems arise a good leader uses appropriate strategies to resolve issues. This is the type of leader I would most like to be, demonstrating nothing less than authentic commitment to the students in our care and to the betterment of their education and inspiring others to do the same.
Aguilar, E. (n.d.). Effective Teams: The Key to Transforming Schools? | Edutopia. K-12 Education & Learning Innovations with Proven Strategies that Work | Edutopia. Retrieved January 28, 2013, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teacher-teams-transform-schools-elena-aguilar
Donaldson, G. (2009). What Makes or Breaks a Principal. Educational Leadership, 67(2), 8
Ferrier, D. (2013) Blog Post: Leadership. Cited at https://www. Diigo.com/bookmark/http%3A%2F www. Diigo.com Posted Thursday 7/4/13
Hargreaves, A. (2007). Sustainable Leadership and Development in Education: creating the future, conserving the past.. European Journal of Education, 42(2), 223-233.
Kotter, J. (n.d.). Change Management vs. Change Leadership — What’s the Difference? – Forbes. Information for the World’s Business Leaders – Forbes.com. Retrieved January 28, 2013, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkotter/2011/07/12/change-management-vs-change-leadership-whats-the-difference/