“A process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”. ~ M. Chemers
I found this to be a great definition as it goes beyond the role of the one in charge. It goes beyond the significant role of an individual managing a school, company, or organization. It involves the “aid and support of others” in the completion of the task at hand. Simply put, you can NOT do it by yourself. In my adventures as an educator, I’ve found this idea to be irrevocably true. As I explained in my post entitled, “Decisions, Decisions…”, there was a time when this became extremely evident to me as a leader. In an opening prayer, I broke down in tears as I spoke the words, “Jesus, I need you. I can’t do any of this without your help.” It was in that moment that the Holy Spirit ministered to my heart as a leader. He was confirming in me that I needed to rely, most of all upon Him, but also my fellow colleagues for the “aid and support” mentioned in Chemers’ definition of leadership. As a football coach, you enlist the aid of assistant coaches and parents to pull off a successful football season. As a teacher, you rely upon your administration and colleagues to become the best you can be. As an administrator, you also rely upon your teachers, fellow administrators, and your parents for support, encouragement, and ideas.
One of the major problems with the term leadership, is that too many confuse it with authority. I read recently that a true form of leadership “should never be for self-exaltation, self-promotion, or self-satisfaction, but rather that we may be better equipped to bless others” (Campbell McAlpine). How true that is! In the realm of education, not one administrator, teacher, aide, coach, office staff, or janitor has the authority, or privilege to work for themselves. What is there to obtain? Education is about giving. Everyone that works on school grounds is and should be considered a servant of those being educated. If every individual found themselves to be servants of those we educate, the American school system would be radically different. If there is a leadership style that I would aim to emulate, it would be as follows (taken from Campbell McAlpine’s The Leadership of Jesus):
1. Be certain of your ministry.
2. Be not alone.
3. Be not sectarian.
4. Serve with the right motive.
5. Be not a people pleaser.
6. Do not forget who you are.
7. Your calling has already been determined: learn, apply, teach.
In the end, if you were to look back on your semester, year, or career as a leader, what do you see? Do you see yourself? Or, do you see everyone else who assisted you in who you had become as a leader? In a series of posts on leadership, a friend of mine quoted the great football coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant. This statement reflects who we all need to be in our positions of leadership. “If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it. That’s all it takes to get people to win football games for you.” As a true leader, are you prepared to take responsibility for the things that go wrong? Are you prepared to give all credit to those who were there to “aid and support” you? In order to have a strong influence in today’s world, you must rely upon those around you and create a community of cooperation and collaboration. Leadership is community-driven, not individualistic.
“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord.” ~ Jeremiah 9:23-24