Leadership and Learning go hand-in-hand

Author: Dawn Mitchell

Hello Everyone,


In last week's Sunday paper, The Greenville News published an excellent article by Kaila Kea from Ziprecruiter.com that provided a list of eight skills that make a good leader (Top Skills That Make A Good Leader).  In reading them, it was clear that you as new teachers are gaining experience with every one of these skills this year in your interactions with your students, their parents, your colleagues, and your administration.  


You will have multiple opportunities to use and grow these leadership skills throughout this year including your observation cycles with your mentor and your administration, parent/teacher conferences and IEP meetings, and grade level/department meetings.   I encourage you to take a few moments to read through the list of leadership traits and consider which ones are strengths for you and which ones you want to target for growth.

1. Communication

Written and verbal communication that is clear, appropriate and useful is the way your colleagues understand what you are asking of them.  If you make it easy for people to understand your questions, instructions, commends and guidance, they can easily follow your lead.

2. Collaboration

Good leaders understand the importance of their team.  Collaborating helps forge partnerships to get the job done and promote inclusion, ensuring that everyone is heard equally.  Assess your current approach to collaboration. 


Ask yourself:

How well do I partner with team members?

Do I work with everyone equally or only the people that I know well?

Do I have strong people skills?


If you find that you need improvement, the best thing to do is be mindful to practice better habits. For example, before the close of your next meeting, ask if everyone feels that they have been heard. A collaborative leader employs a purposeful effort to help the team work well professionally and socially.


3. Active Listening

Make a conscious effort to understand what people are saying. This is an integral part of what makes a good leader and among the top people skills you can have!. Dedicate greater attention to conversations you hold throughout the day and clarify when necessary. True leadership quality is demonstrated by a leader who is fully engaged in conversation.

4. Knowledge

The ability to speak from deep understanding of a subject is crucial to strong leadership. Learn as much as you can about your field (including best practices and trends) then determine how to use that information effectively. Participate in conferences and classes that are designed to increase your knowledge. 

5. Humility

Humility means understanding that no matter how much you know, there is always more to learn and other may have insights our knowledge that are valuable.  Practice humility by seeking feedback from friends and colleagues. Challenge your own outlook by reading literature with an opposing view or doing research about a culture that is different from your own. Few things are more humbling than finding out that what you thought you knew about the world is actually quite different.


6. Decision-Making

Strong leadership require decisiveness. Leaders are constantly faced with making decisions both touch and simple. Strong decision-making is well-supported, timely, inclusive, and specific.


You should learn to recognize and trust your own instincts and have a more deliberative process. You can conduct research, explore your options, and consult colleagues for advice. This will help to ensure firm decision-making that is effective and informed. A strong leader will be able to explain the reasoning behind a decision.


7. Self- Awareness

The strongest leaders are conscious of their own patterns and behaviors, remaining self-aware of how they interact with the world. When you notice that you feel grumpier without your morning coffee, you are practicing self-awareness. You recognize that without that energy boost, you do not feel as energized to take on the day. Leaders who are self-aware will understand how their own behavior patterns and mood affect their interactions with other people. A good leader won’t take their bad day out on their co-workers.


8. Experience

Nothing prepares you for the demands of leadership quite like experience with leadership! Reflect on the kinds of leadership that you have observed in others throughout your career. Think about what has worked for you in leadership roles.


You can gain experience as a leader and exposure to other leadership styles by expanding your exposure. Consider becoming a member of a professional association, working with volunteer organizations, the PTA, or even a club sports team. All organizations need leadership in both formal and informal ways. The experiences you gain now will help you to be a more informed leader in the future.


Sincerely, Dawn

© 2020 South Carolina ASCD.

Mailing Address: 

PO Box 238 Fairforest, SC 29336