Are you a teacher leader?
He systematically walked in and out of every room, disturbing and unnerving all. The staff braced themselves for the sure to follow email pointing out negatives wherever he saw them. Each approached him only when necessary since his whole demeanor screamed, “Leave me alone!” This was their fearless leader–or was he?
We often think of leadership as the one who holds a leader-like title. It’s like going around a park seeing labels on trees. Unless we’re really interested in that tree, we’re not likely to look at the lable. With leaders, we know when it’s right and when it’s not. Calling something ”leader” that’s clearly not is meaningless and unfortunate.
What, then, is a leader, and how might we be one?
Teachers are in a unique position to lead, though they may not realize it. Think about your own school. Who is the true leader? Who do people go to for inspiration and new ideas? Is there anyone who seems to keep a positive focus even in the middle of all of the negatives? You too can be that person with perhaps a shift in motive.
Ask yourself a simple what? What really motivates that person to lead? Is it power? If so, it’s the opposite of true leadership which Jesus modeled beautifully for us. How did his leadership differ from what we see in the typical “leader” we often encounter? Wouldn’t you say that the true, positive leaders in your school have some, if not all, of the three L’s of leadership?
Love – If we are motivated to become great, me might get a title, but we’ll not likely be the person that the title represents. Jesus was clear that in order to become great, we must be the servant of all. We can serve others with a heart full of true love. That’s how it works. Each day, we teachers can love our students, our fellow teachers, our bosses, our parent community, and our workplace. We can do it because our hearts are full of love. When our motive is love, we will share good things with others. It won’t be difficult for us. It will be a natural outcome from our pure motive.
Laughter – Real leaders tend to have a sense of humor. They take the intolerable things and turn them into bearable situations. Otherwise, they might have left years earlier. These leaders don’t laugh so much at the situation, which tends to make things worse. They actually look for things that bring them pleasure. Imagine Jesus walking through a crowd and finding Zacchaeus up in a tree. I think He was quite amused by the whole situation and saw that Zacchaeus needed a change. Jesus initiated spending time with Zaccheaus in order to change his lifestyle. Jesus laughed so much with these types of people that the church leaders were annoyed by him. Yet, He led many to laugh and to love people.
Learn – Most real leaders have an attitude of learning. They listen to people and yet they see the real meaning in the conversation. They learn wherever they go and collect jewels which they pass on to others. They are not know-it-alls, who are interesting at first but wear-off quickly. Instead, they listen with the heart, and they share practically how to help the other person move forward. Jesus listened to the woman at the well and offered her life-changing water. Are we learning from this master teacher?
With these three L’s we’ll become, if not already, a teacher leader. Imaging a school full of teacher leader who learn from each other, laugh, and love.
How do you lead from the middle?
“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” Ken Blanchard