Exceptional building and district leaders understand that leadership is larger than themselves. They recognize that one of their greatest responsibilities is to build upon, and develop the leadership qualities of others in the organization. To do this requires an understanding of the strengths, passions, and interests of the faculty or staff. This understanding can only come if the leader is willing to engage, develop and cultivate relationships. It is important and critical work.
So, how does a building or district leader go about forging relationships within the organization? Here are some starting points:
- Be friendly. Being friendly and approachable, and greeting staff and students each day is a small way that you can have a positive impact. The golden rule works well here, treat others the way that you would like to be treated. It is also worthwhile to remember that you can catch more flies with honey, than with vinegar.
- Be present. Take an interest in the work and learning of others. Actively listen to those around you, and when possible lift their voice. Be visible by spending as much time outside of the office as possible, and be approachable by having an open door policy.
- Be vulnerable. Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, but one of strength, and it will encourage others to do the same.
- Have concern. Leaders must demonstrate their capacity to care and show true empathy and compassion for others.
- Acknowledge the contributions of others. Whenever possible (and it is always possible), find novel ways to acknowledge the contributions of others. Build up the organization's capacity by recognizing the good that is already there.
When leaders take the time to invest in others, the result is trust and a shared understanding. The meaningful relationships that develop, ultimately increases a leader's sphere of influence.