Leading from the Heart

Week 57 – April 17, 2021 – Understanding Self

I’ve been spending time preparing for an interview and one of my “weak points” is talking about self and highlighting my strengths. It’s not something I am accustomed to doing but it is skill or mindset I might develop over time in higher education beyond the interview. Anyway, I digress. I think about my location statement and I do plan to return to it, but also develop a location statement as an educator. I am brought back to Parker Palmer’s Courage to Teach work and Donald Schon’s Reflective Practitioner work, I am likely to bring this idea of developing a location statement as part of EDUC 405 (e-Portfolio) but also EDUC 490 (short practicum) next term.

An area of interest to me is leadership. I am a bit awestruck how powerful leadership is integral to learning, but also I wanted to point the mirror back at me to ask, “Who am I? What leader am I? Why does it matter?” I am drawn to three types: (1) relational leadership; (2) compassionate leadership; and (3) transformative leadership.

Relational leadership focuses on the team and cares for the whole person. They understand that workplace culture has an influence on the quality of the operations and output, so how people feel is important to this leader. Compassionate leadership brings empathy to the workplace. With open hearts and minds, there would be more creative problem solving and willingness to move forward. These leaders are learners. They are focused on the team and choose to influence to remove barriers while maintaining high ethical standards. Transformative leadership challenges the status quo. These leaders are generally enthusiastic, energetic, and passionate. They support creativity, fosters good relationships, and have a clear vision. For me, all of these leadership styles intersect and interconnect. I am about the people first.

Trust, respect, and vulnerability are key. I am learning how to have these qualities to model and have others do the same. It’s not easy when there are none of these qualities present in your work environment. Fear, shame, and ego get in the way of what could be possible. So does hurt, pain, and trauma. This is where people lose heart and it’s difficult to heal when we hold onto those stories, memories, and feelings. It takes compassion, kindness, and empathy to restore the person, the community, and the vision. When a community is broken, it takes the community to rebuild. I feel that there is a huge opportunity when things are broken. One can focus on how things were or take hold of the idea that restoring means recreating. We do this by focusing on the people and how they are feeling. Change will happen.