With the start of 2019 comes New Year’s Resolutions, the annual January hashtags (i.e., #NewYearNewMe), and a searching for what will bring about the change that so many seek. For leaders in education, we often find ourselves asking, “What platform, curriculum, or teaching strategy will revolutionize our school’s data or our day-to-day operations?” However, rather than looking externally for ways to revolutionize our schools, let’s desire, as the Schuyler Sisters (in Lin-Manual Miranda’s Broadway Musical Hamilton) sang, “a revelation.” Reflecting on how we are leading with our values and modeling vulnerability for our staff and students often elicits a revelation of what will be the key levers for success.
In this season of reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to the next chapter, some key questions to consider are:
- To what extent do I lead from who I am and what I value?
- To what extent do I lead with vulnerability?
- Possible follow-up questions: When have I done this well? Why? When have I let this slip and lead instead from insecurity or fear? Why?
The revelations that come from taking the time to answer these questions then act as the starting point for resolutions in our schools and classrooms. In order to run effective schools, where adults and students feel safe coming to work each day, lead with authenticity, and exceed proficiency, we must first look inward to determine the type of leadership we are modeling. We must humbly and sincerely consider when we have led from our values and led with vulnerability.
In her book, Daring Greatly, Dr. Brené Brown gives example after example of leaders who built successful companies because they chose to lead with vulnerability. She devotes portions of the book to her research on “raising children who are hopeful and who have the courage to be vulnerable.” As educators, in order to teach our students how to do this, we must first model vulnerability ourselves so that it ripples to our staff members modeling the courage to be vulnerable and ultimately our students having the courage to be vulnerable. In doing so, we all open ourselves up to limitless growth opportunities as we “Dare Greatly” together.
So, where does this begin? Great question! Rip off the band-aid. Period. Rather than talking about leading with vulnerability and teaching others to do, experience vulnerability together by sharing examples of when you have dared greatly and failed. Share what you learned through the failure or that you are still processing it and would appreciate additional insight. Bringing people on board in times of growth often invests them in the leader, in the journey and in reaching the destination. I have created a Professional Development Session (linked here) that walks the facilitator through some background information on the power and purpose of leading with vulnerability, an activity to experience vulnerability as a team, and then how to make it practical with values-based leadership.
Reflections. Revelations. Resolutions. Here’s to strengthening our leadership and our adult and student communities in 2019 by embracing vulnerability and leading with our values.
Guest blog author Meghan Thompson joined Teach For America in 2008 and began her career in education as a 9th-12th Special Education Teacher in Charlotte, NC. In 2010, she was a member of the founding team at Henderson Collegiate (a school that has ranked in the top 3.5% of all NC public schools for the past 4 years). In 2014, she was a member of the founding team at Democracy Prep Baton Rouge and throughout her time at DPBR served as a middle school ELA teacher, middle school math teacher and the Middle School Campus Director.