“Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.”
– Vince Lombardi
Summer is an exhilarating time for aspiring leaders as they look at the upcoming school year with anticipation and excitement for their potential growth. Prior to the school year beginning, many teachers use this time to prepare their mindset, plan for new initiatives, and find new responsibilities on their campus. If you don’t act quickly, you might find yourself missing out on impactful opportunities and important experiences. I know I did and I regret it to this day.
As a young leader, I went into summer with high expectations. My plan was to finish my master’s program and immediately move into an administrative position. To do this, I was going to participate in as many leadership tasks as possible. At the campus where I taught, there were five other teachers that had already completed their principal program and were licensed to become an administrator. To say it was competitive would be the understatement of the year. Each person was highly motivated and was looking to advance as soon as possible.
One day in the summer, I came up to campus with several other teachers to set up my classroom. When we went through the front office, one of the teachers, who was an aspiring administrator, exited the principal’s office. He shook the principal’s hand and thanked her for the opportunity to meet. The principal shared her excitement for the upcoming school year and the plan they just created. I remember being envious of the exchange and wishing I had the opportunity to share in a similar experience.
The other aspiring leaders on our campus were extremely motivated to gain leadership experiences. It was obvious that I was going to have to stand out in some way so I could obtain the position I desired and lead a campus. Here are two steps I used to change the trajectory of my leadership journey.
Communicating My Goals
As my peers were getting leadership opportunities, I was sitting back getting frustrated and jealous behind the scenes. However, the only one to blame was me. If I wanted the same chances, I needed to communicate my aspirations, goals, and willingness to my administrators. My principal had no idea of my ideas, goals, or vision for my future. I assumed she knew but that was impossible. It was my responsibility to communicate that to my principal.
I set up a time with my principal and I laid out my vision, dreams, and goals. It was a very productive meeting and my principal was very supportive in assisting in my development. We devised a solid plan of action and I began to implement it the next day.
Volunteering My Time
Once my principal knew my goals, intentions, and plans of action, I went to the front office every day to volunteer my services. Before school, during my off period, during lunch, and after school, I would go down to the front office to see if I could help in any way possible. Often, I wouldn’t be able to help but I was able to observe the administrators in various situations, which was extremely valuable. The more visible I was, the more I was provided leadership experiences.
I was once told, “The best ability is availability.” It was difficult at times to manage being a teacher, coach, and aspiring leader, but it was worth it in the end. I knew the job and I experienced many facets of the administrative position prior to being promoted.
By being an effective communicator and volunteering my time, I was able to establish myself as a leader on my campus. The year was difficult but I grew a great deal as a leader. If you are searching for more information on leadership and how to obtain your goals, check out my book Aspire to Lead. You will learn how to:
- ACTIVATE your journey
- Find SUPPORT from other leaders
- PERSEVERE through challenges
- Discover your IDENTITY
- Grow in your REFLECTION
- And EXECUTE your vision!
In addition to the book, I have constructed a FREE book study. The videos and resources in this course will help you dive deeper and take full advantage of reading and experiencing the book “Aspire to Lead.” In the videos, I take you step-by-step through each chapter, providing you with thought-provoking prompts and questions to consider during your reading. You will also receive chapter-by-chapter challenges and additional resources that put the content into practice and enhance your leadership skills.