Boy do I wish I knew then what I know now. When you’re fifteen and starting your first job, it’s hard to have the wherewithal to understand the criticism and compliments that a boss doles out. But certainly once you get it, however long that takes, this recognition is a vital step in your own development as a boss. I’m appreciative to have recognized this fairly early and as a high school student actually submitted an article to our local newspaper recognizing my fantastic first boss.
So, over the years I’ve been collecting and reflecting on the qualities in leaders that I’ve worked with and under as well as successes I’ve had as a leader.
- Be someone who listens: Now this is a quality I am working on because I get so excited about a topic that I ramble… fast and I’m not actively hearing the other person.Slow down and be in the moment.
- Be someone who makes a decision: I have had and still do have bosses that cannot make a decision. Rather, they want others to do it for them. One of the most respected administrators I’ve worked with took it one step further. Regardless of what her decision was, you knew that she had listened first and then made the best decision she knew how to make. And you felt fine with whatever it was because you knew that she heard you. And she took the responsibility for making the decision.
- Be someone who is personable, but still keeps some distance: Being personable is necessary. Knowing about family, friends, interests, skills, and hobbies is important, but as a leader or talking with a leader also does not mean that we need to meet for drinks after work or that I need to hear about your recent family crisis in detail.
- Be someone who inspires: Like the John Quincy Adams quote, I want to feel empowered. I want to be better because and for them. Educators talk about this regarding students: “it’s not filling a the bucket, but lighting a fire.” Educators should remember this around our colleagues too. I need all ten fingers and toes, plus some to count my colleagues who inspire me.
- Additionally, be someone who compliments: Tell them that they inspire you. I am a firm believer in compliments. I like getting them and I love giving them. I try to compliment a colleague, mentor, or boss as often as possible.
- Be someone who believes: I will never forget 2010 when I walked in to my administrator’s office to tell her about an opportunity that another librarian had presented about hosting an author visit (it would be a first for me and the building). Plus I was a big fan of this author’s work and so were our students. I didn’t say more than a few words and her response was “yes, whatever it is, yes.” She saw my passion and excitement and knew that I would see it through. It started by believing in someone or something.
- Be someone who dresses the part: This doesn’t mean spending two hours getting ready in the morning nor does it mean having thousand-dollar suits, it means dressing how you want to be addressed.
Leadership is a work in progress, but if every experience is an opportunity to learn, then we are all better for it. It’s multi-faceted. It’s never perfect. But it’s a start.