Everything in your school, the ups and the downs, comes back to leadership and your ability to provide safety and security to your team. Quality leadership creates an environment where everyone is all in and will trust each other, cooperate with each other, and even sacrifice for each other. This is an incredibly effective way to boost morale, which has all sorts of amazing ripple effects!
The Reality of Leadership
For you to be a leader and have an administrative position in your school, someone has to willingly follow you. At its core, leadership is influence. It’s having influence over the lives, thinking, and actions of others. It’s about people. It’s not about your title or your position, so — as hard as it may be — try to stop thinking of it like that!
We know it’s hard to do, especially when you may have started as a teacher and worked hard to move into your administrative role. This is certainly an accomplishment and something to be proud of for sure, but it’s even more important to be careful with how you think about your role.
After all, there are plenty of people in preschools who are authorities, but not leaders — even though their title says they are. Conversely, there are also plenty of workers in our schools (teachers, maintenance, food service) who are leaders, though their title does not say “lead or head.” And yet, they lead their peers daily.
Knowing & Applying Leadership Skills
It’s common to think that when you become a director or maybe when you own a school yourself, then you’ll be able to influence your team. It’s easy to think, “When I’m promoted to that role, that’s when I will learn how to be the best leader and I’ll develop and fine-tune my skills.”
However, it’s that thinking is where we mess up! You don’t magically change being who you are when you become an “official” leader. If you were a good leader before, your influence will grow; and if you understand the key elements of leadership, your style will stand out and truly make an impact. If you were a bad leader before, then your influence will drastically decrease, and you’ll lose your opportunity to add value and impact the lives of your team. As a leader, your leadership matters! That’s why we always encourage transformational leadership that sets you, your team, and your school — including students and parents! — up for amazing success.
Quick Tips for Being a Better Leader, Starting Now!
John Maxwell says that everything rises and falls on leadership. So, with that in mind…
Would YOU follow you?
Being a leader doesn’t mean you’re perfect, but you certainly have to believe in doing your best, admitting when you’re wrong, and believing in good old personal accountability. Deep down, you know your leadership best because you know who you are.
Whether you’re an inspirational leader who everyone follows confidently and with ease, or you’re a struggling leader who just can’t seem to gain the influence you need to run a thriving preschool, there are things you can start doing right now to be better:
- Show up on time with a smile and a great, positive attitude.
- Stay present and in the moment with others. That means put the phone away, close the door, do whatever you’ve got to do. But when you’re with someone, be with them.
- Be reliable and consistent. This includes following up on ideas and plans with real results that prove you can be trusted and counted on.
- Help solve problems. When issues come up, don’t leave them to your team to figure out. Get into the nitty gritty and help figure it out with them. If needed, pick up some of the slack!
- Develop relationships with your team and truly connect with them on personal levels. Ask them how they’re doing, what they did over the weekend, and be interested for real!
If you aren’t feeling proud of how you’ve led your team up to this point, don’t get discouraged! It’s never too late to make some changes and turn things around. Regardless of where you think you fall with your leadership, decide that today is when you recommit yourself to your team, then do it (see our tip above about being reliable and consistent!). The decision you make today to be a better leader can transform your school, starting tomorrow.
A School Is Only As Successful As Its Leadership!
As you take all of this in, we encourage you to remember the shadow of the leader. How you are, and how you lead yourself is your shadow. Your school and team will inevitably take on your characteristics, and this will ultimately determine the success of your school. It’s a lot of work and pressure, but it’s completely worth it when you find yourself the proud leader of a thriving school!
At Impact Early Education, we know your work is never done. That’s why we provide valuable professional development courses for preschool teachers, directors, and owners in a way that works for you. To learn more, explore our courses or contact us today!