March 5, 2009

Leader don't need to be inspirational?

Timothy D. Kanold: Becoming an Authentic Learning Leader: Whatever you Do, Inspire me! Sounds exciting right? Well, it was. This was one of the last sessions I went to and perhaps the one topic that I was most familiar with. i am a huge believer in motivation, positive energy, and inspiration. However, Timothy asked the audience how many people believed that their leaders must be inspirational and about 50% raised their hands (I raised two...and my feet). I was surprised by this...but apparently leaders do not need to be inspirational. Many teachers that I talked to saw it as a trade off: if someone is inspirational then they are probably not organized, or disciplined...etc... I am not sure where this type of thinking comes from. Anyway, Kanold said that people will work better for an inspirational leader.

Kanold then offered administration some advice: he urged to hire based on character first, then competency and committment to the cause. He basically said that we should hire teachers based on the type of people they are above all else. And really, this makes sense. When we think of the type of staff we want to be a part of, it is based on characteristics (an energetic staff, motivated, respectful, dedicated, etc...). Kanold then had us turn the mirrors on ourselves, and I urge anyone reading this to do the same. Do you create a positive emotional energy every time you walk into a room? If you are honest with yourself, this can be a tough question. Everyone has those mornings when they walk into their classroom or into the staff room and that's about it...we just walk in. We don't enthusiastically greet others. We don't smile. We don't give high fives and bump chests...well, you get the point. Although Kanold talked about different types of energy (motivational, relaxed, depressed, and angry) he also acknowledged that teachers have it tough because we are expected to be motivational all the time. Holding yourself at a high positive energy will only burn you out, but that's why you need a balance between school and home - you need that relaxed energy in your life. Besides, the type of energy you share drastically affects the school atmosphere, and wouldn't you rather be part of a high positive energy atmosphere? The other interesting question he asked was: would you love to be lead by you? E.g. would you love to be in your class, or be a staff member if you were principal etc...? Finally he offered us this "test"

Symptoms you are slipping into quadrants 3 & 4 (angry and depressed)
  • Chronic sense of never enough time
  • Increased irritablity
  • Constant physical tension
  • Pre-occupation with self and failure to notice others
  • Loss of sense of gratitude and joy
  • Talking fast and completing others' sentences
  • Fatigue - tired all the time
  • Poor listening skills and failure to engage with those closest to you

Not exaclty ending on a high note, eh? But nonetheless, something to pay attention to.

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