This post was originally published on Ed Web, NAESP’s Principals’ Office Blog, and on the Conference News site for #NAESP14 where I served as an official conference blogger.
Today I learned about staff morale and planning with our best people in mind from Todd Whitaker and the power of introverted people from Susan Cain (You can also view her TED Talk here.) Both messages are critical, I believe to our work as principals got me thinking about how these two in particular intersect.
I think back to a conversation I had with a great teacher in my building. We talked about the wonderful things happening in her classroom and how she was furthering her own learning to better support her students. I shared that I would love to see her pursue more leadership opportunities in our school. Knowing her, she is not one to seek attention or impose her opinion on others. Looking back, I would expect her to identify herself as an introvert.
So what did I mean by ‘leader’? I really mean that I want her to share. I want others to know and see what’s happening that could ultimately serve their own students better. Thinking of our best people means thinking of what they need, though, not just what we need from them or what we think ‘good for them’ looks like. As Cain wondered aloud, how can we consider the individual learning styles of students and not do the same for our teachers? We can be leaders in different ways, and we have the power to spread that message.
In some ways, I think it goes back to Whitaker’s message about sharing expectations versus correcting behaviors. Instead of telling her I want to see her as a leader near the year’s end, I can use what I’ve learned about introverts v. extroverts and share what teacher leadership can look like and empower my teachers at that first, important faculty meeting. How do you define leadership in your school community? How do you honor your best people in doing so? In what other situations do you need to rethink the power of introverts as a school leader? I’d love to learn more!