What I Learned This Week… Developing and Facilitating Leadership – #Leadership20

This week Shannon Smith led the Leadership 2.0 webinar, Developing and Facilitating Leadership. As the timing of this lecture coincides closely with the quarter-way point on the school year, I thought I would reflect on what I’ve noticed this year with regards to the topic of developing and facilitating leadership.

Let Leadership Happen

We had a significant turnover with teaching staff this year and I was a bit worried we would have a staff divided, with distinct “old” and “new” camps. Instead, what I saw was an amazing synergy. The new staff brought energy and new perspectives to our school culture, and our existing staff provided wisdom and historical perspective to our new staff members. Who was the leader here? The truth is everyone. By far, the vast majority of my staff were both able to lead and follow through a reciprocal interplay that I have honestly never experienced before.

Did I create this? No, but I definitely wasn’t going to interfere with what was naturally happening. The extent of my direct influence was planning a retreat for the fall knowing that we would need some time to develop relationships with each other. I honestly couldn’t have designed such a great leadership development opportunity. As we prepare for our first round of report cards, its great to see the synergy is still alive as my staff collectively works together through this naturally stressful time.

As I reflect on the year, I’m also definitely seeing the value in giving staff freedom to pursue their personal passions to develop projects and initiative within the school. I’m seeing some phenomenal things happening this year at our school fuelled by the passion of my staff. Its important to realize that this isn’t fostering chaotic anarchy. When a staff member comes to me with an idea, we have a conversation so I can get a better understanding of purpose, and so we can align that purpose with the greater purpose of what we’re trying to accomplish as a school community. Some initiatives thrive, and some naturally fizzle out, but each endeavour enhances the collective leadership capacity of the school. An example of this is exemplified in a previous blog post where a couple of staff members had a dream and they weren’t going to let me get in the way.

Recognize and Develop Leaders

Letting leadership happen is great, but developing leadership capacity within a school is much too important to leave entirely up to chance. It is equally important to purposefully develop leaders within the school. Over the course of the year, many formal and informal leadership opportunities exist within a school. When these arise, its easy as a leader to call on the handful of “go to” people that you know will get the job done.

Continually giving the nod to the same people is great, and in many ways the safest way to distribute leadership, but it does limit the leadership development within the school. This year, I am shifting my mindset away from always giving the nod for leadership opportunities to the usual “go to” people, but giving people that are capable of the task the opportunity for those formal and informal leadership opportunities within the school. Schools are brimming with expertise, by new and old staff alike. To truly develop and foster leadership within a school, we need to remember to give these opportunities to all that are capable, not just the few.


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