On October 18th and 19th I attended New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Associations Fall Conference. The theme was Rethinking Leadership. During the first day Brad Currie (@bcurrie5) and I offered a session on using social media as a way of rethinking leadership. This conference and our presentation allowed me an opportunity to think about and rethink what leadership means to me and where educational leadership is going in the future.
For our presentation we asked our participants in the room and on Twitter four questions. These questions are below with my responses (more than 140 characters) as a way to rethink leadership in my mind.
1. What factors have caused you to rethink your leadership style and approach? The evolution of our profession has given me an opportunity to rethink what leadership is, who is a leader and how we should lead. What I firmly believe is that leaders are all around us. Some are given the title and others are not. Some leaders have obvious skills and others are less overt. How this has changed my leadership style and approach is that I have always believed it is the responsibility of an identified leader to help those around him/her to become leaders. Because I am now seeing leaders of all types I am committed to providing leadership opportunities to educators who are interested in taking on the challenges and joys of educational leadership.
2. How does technology and social media contribute to the evolution of educational leadership? Anytime, anywhere learning and leadership connections have revolutionized educational leadership. As many have mentioned, social media is an outstanding way for educators of all interests to connect, share, collaborate and learn. It is also an opportunity for educational leaders to mentor those interested in leadership opportunities. This mentorship includes discussion groups on Twitter, sending news and research articles to followers, blogging, and collaborating on projects and educational opportunities. For those of us “traditionally” trained administrators the only advice, contact and access to an educational leader we had prior to starting our jobs was provided by our college professors who might bring in a guest administrator on one night of class. Today, it’s a Tweet, direct message or email away on any day, at anytime.
3. What stays the same for a leader even when you rethink your leadership style and approach? I see three things that remain the same. The first is a focus on student learning, and success. No matter how things change we must keep our focus on why we went into this line of work. The second is a focus on those we lead. Our teachers and staff need an approachable leader who does not rely solely on technology or social media, one who understands that the personal/professional connection is important and that those we lead need our support, the proper training and resources to do their jobs well. The third thing that remains the same is a high level of commitment. I do not believe there is any substitute for commitment to our profession. With commitment comes energy and enthusiasm. All of these were necessary to be a leader in the past, necessary today and will be necessary going forward.
4. How has social media changed your leadership style? When I started using social media I didn’t know what to do with it but I knew that I was looking for a professional connection. I found it on Twitter and from the point of connection I developed a renewed energy and excitement about learning new things in education and connecting with forward thinking and positive educators. I hope it has also made me a more open minded educator as I have read ideas and concepts from many educators with different views and experiences than mine. Educational leaders need to change with the times. Social media makes that change for educational leaders a more informed transition.
As I am exposed to more information, research and connections I will continue to rethink leadership. What are your thoughts on these questions? Have you started to rethink leadership? Share a thought by commenting on this post.