Two years ago, I had my first foray into my current position of leading the arts in my district. I enjoyed it, but it was definitely challenging to make the switch from being a peer to being in charge, with so many of my friends being music teachers! Due to some district restructuring and personnel changes, I took on a somewhat different role last year, but I am (happily) back in a similar position this year. The silver lining is that it has really allowed me to see my own growth as a leader over the past couple of years!
Then, I really approached things as a teacher. I will never forget my supervisor asking me, "How do you think a principal would describe this situation?" It turned on a lightbulb for me!
Now, I find myself thinking more as an administrator. In some ways, this is a good thing, but in other ways, I never want to get too far from a teacher point of view, so I try to talk to several current teachers to stay grounded in everyday classroom life.
Then, I really feared and shied away from conflict. It's hard to stand up and say no to people who are your friends, who were recently your peers! I was so uncomfortable with this role.
Now, I still don't like conflict very much, but I'm more willing to step into it. I feel more strongly grounded in what I believe is best for our students, and I can articulate it when needed.
Then, I was learning so much, and asked so many questions! I remember needing a lot of help to walk through HR processes, budgets, etc. It was a steep learning curve, and I had to learn how all of these things worked before I could really figure out how to approach them.
Now, I am still learning a lot, but it is getting easier! After taking a year "off" from doing this, I'm re-learning a lot, but it is coming back more quickly and I have a much better sense of the big picture. I've been pleasantly surprised at not only how much I remember, but how much I am able to put other pieces into place after seeing different parts of the organization!
Then, I was new. Almost every big decision I made was in conjunction with someone, because I didn't feel very confident and needed other people's perspective to help me develop my own.
Now, I'm still pretty new. I still look for other perspectives, but I don't feel like I am completely missing something, and that in turn gives me more confidence in my decisions. One of the biggest differences I have noticed is in how people treat me - I feel like there is so much more trust! I have asked in a couple of different instances if people want to double-check my work before I finalize it, and the answer is, "No, if you feel good about it, that's fine." This is both affirming and a little scary :-).
Then, I accepted what I was told. If a supervisor or peer said that something should be a certain way, I took it for granted, whether I agreed or not.
Now, I have learned that I can push back a little if it's something I feel strongly about. I definitely have to choose my battles, but I am not so quick to accept "no" for an answer.
It's amazing to me to look back and see my own growth over only two years. I still have a long way to go, but I hope and pray that I will continue to develop into a leader worth following, no matter where my career takes me!
How have you grown in the past couple of years?
What do you think are the most important qualities in a leader?