At the commencement of ETL504 we were asked to comment and share our thoughts on leadership. Looking back on this forum post reminds me how simple I considered this task to be. In summary, I believed leadership was the ability to communicate and collaborate effectively, to lead by example and to be a risk taker, unafraid of change (Wardlaw, G. 2013, March 13). How clear it all seemed. The more I read about leadership, the more doubtful I became about my own leadership skills, attributes and style. Knowing that I am usually quite introverted, more comfortable following than leading, I found the concept of leadership as a key role for the teacher librarian to be quite daunting.
As we draw to the end of this subject I realise that I have learned so much more about the complexities and qualities of leadership. I have learned that there are many different leadership theories and styles and have identified those that best suit my future role as a teacher librarian. The styles that resonate with me are:
Transformational leadership, leadership that is focused on change (Marzano, Waters & McNulty, 2005, p. 14). Leadership that is inspirational and motivational to others.
Authentic Leadership, leadership that is transparent and ethical and encourages openness in sharing information (Avolio, Walumbwa & Weber, 2009, p.423), that demonstrates integrity and builds “relational trust” (Sergiovanni, 2005, p.117).
Distributed leadership, leadership that acknowledges civility and “welcomes diversity” (Sergiovanni, 2005, p.120), that empowers others to take risks, explore new ideas and share the responsibility of decision making.
Strategic leadership, leadership that demonstrates a clear sense of direction, that can predict and articulate future trends and influence future outcomes.
I have come to understand that the ability to build relational trust (to engender respect, loyalty and trust) is an important quality of strong leadership and is vital for developing a supportive work culture. (Sergiovanni, 2005, p. 119)
The following attributes contribute to building rational trust:
Emotional intelligence: the ability to communicate effectively, to genuinely listen and show empathy, the ability to self-regulate and remain calm in situations of conflict.
Authenticity: the ability to lead by example, to model positive, ethical behaviours, to demonstrate genuine openness, integrity and honesty also engender respect, loyalty and trust.
I have built on the notion that leadership is all about change and that” Great leadership empowers a vision to become a reality” (Crotty, 2013). Effective leaders advocate certain behaviours and attitudes to successfully lead change, they create a culture of openness and uphold to the following principles: collaboration, transparency, sharing and empowerment (Tapscott, 2012).
I have also had to address the daunting issue of problem solving and decision-making; aspects to leadership that always make me feel uncomfortable. However, discovering that there are processes and strategies available to make this experience less intimidating was enlightening. I found the “7 steps to problem solving” gave structure to the process and will be useful to use in future problem solving scenarios.
In my life, I have worked in a number of roles and in a number of different teams and although I had already considered the importance of effective communication and collaboration to leadership, until now, I had not considered leadership’s contribution to successful team building and collegiality. Good leaders have the ability to create a positive collaborative culture, create a sense of belonging and community. Effective leadership develops talent and personal growth through positive feedback, acknowledgment and appreciation. Supportive leadership remembers to celebrate achievement no matter how small. Leadership advocates continuous improvement within teams, supporting professional learning and reflective practice.
Finally, I have come to understand the importance of strategic planning and the important role leadership has in planning for change. Before commencing this subject I hadn’t even seen a strategic plan let alone attempt to create one. The journey has been enormous and quite daunting at times. I am still unsure if I fully understand the process but hope I will get the opportunity to do more in the future.
Avolio, B., Walumbwa, F., & Weber, T. J. (2009, September 14). Leadership: Current Theories, Research, and Future Directions. DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1036&context=managementfacpub
Crotty, R. (2013). Leading change [ETL504 Module 2.1]. Retrieved May a6, 2013, from Charles Sturt University website: http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL504_201330_W_D/page/2179fa2f-bbfd-4f13-803d-da9d7fd8c83e
Sergiovanni, T. (2005). The Virtues of Leadership. The Educational Forum, 69(Winter), 112-123. Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/7375166/Sergiovanni-Thomas-Virtues-of-Leadership
Tapscott, D. (2012). Don Tapscott: Four principles for the open world. TEDGlobal 2012. Retrieved, May 16, 2013, from http://www.ted.com/talks/don_tapscott_four_principles_for_the_open_world_1.html
Wardlaw, G (2013, march 13). My understanding of leadership [online forum comment]. retrieved from http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL504_201330_W_D/page/dba28d8b-577d-4280-00cd-ca863f483083