Why I Lead… #SAVMP

Lead and learn photo credit: AnsonLu

I am excited about the opportunity to participate in an innovative program launched by George Couros  (@gcouros), The School Administrators Virtual Mentorship Program (#SAVMP). The idea behind the program is “to help develop administrators to lead innovative school environments that meet the needs of students today.” Leading innovation begins with our own learning.

As a starting point for thinking about our own practices, George has asked us to reflect on our “why” — why we lead. I have to admit that when I began my career as an educator, I never envisioned myself as a leader. Early on, I saw myself as a learner and a teacher, guiding and facilitating the learning of my students. Inspired by my own teachers who saw me — as a person and a learner — I wanted to follow in their footsteps and give back the life-changing gift that they gave me.

As a teacher, the connections I made with students — getting to know their strengths, their passions, their challenges and their dreams — gave me a genuine sense of purpose and meaning. Seeing the spark in a student as they discovered new skills, talents and capabilities inspired me to continue to learn and grow to be a better teacher. Empowering students to step boldly onto their own path, in turn, inspired me to seek out and pursue my own learning.

At that time, I associated “leadership” with “administration” — as something embodied by a single individual, separate from the essential connection between learning and teaching. As my path has meandered, however, my understanding of leadership has profoundly changed.

I now see leadership as inextricably bound to my own learning and the learning of others.  By approaching my work with deep curiosity, a willingness to take risks, a genuine desire to seek and understand — I strive to foster the conditions that make learning and growth possible for the students and the communities I serve. Leadership is not separate from learning and teaching; it is at its core.

I lead because I am a learner, committed to connecting in meaningful ways with others, to both be changed and to create change. I lead because I believe in the capacity of human beings to grow and learn and create new possibilities for our students and our world.

What are your reasons for leading?

9 thoughts on “Why I Lead… #SAVMP

  1. This is a great post. I’m intrigued by the idea of executing a leadership development program virtually. I hope write more about it.
    Leading to me is about overcoming things that no individual could ever hope to overcome. I see the need for leadership as a product of uncertainty and fear. People are generally jealous of their autonomy, but will sacrifice some measure of it willingly if they believe they can gain achievement or safety in doing so. Knowing that as a leader I provide the means for whole groups of people to gain that achievement or safety is very motivating to me. My views on the subject are a product of a very military-centric mindset, and I welcome other points of view. Not everybody knows what it’s like to go to work expecting to get shot at.

    • Hi James,
      Thank you for sharing your perspectives on leadership. I agree that leadership is about overcoming obstacles and moving through fear. As leaders, I think, we help others to see and draw upon their strengths to meet challenges.

  2. Hi Jennie,

    I echo much of what you wrote about why you lead. The possibilities are endless. Our impact is immeasurable. I love that you tied in the fact you are a learner yourself. I cannot imagine how one could lead today’s schools without being a lead-learner first. So important!

    I hope you have a lovely start to your school year.


    • Hi Tia,
      Thank you so much for your comments. I do believe that the possibilities are endless and that we have tremendous capacity to make a positive impact collectively. Learning and leading are the keys.

      Wishing you a great start to your school year!

  3. I really enjoyed reading your post and instantly connected with your writing about yourself as a learner. I, myself, “fell” into administration a few years ago and never actually planned on going down this path. Being a learner has been an essential part of my growth as an administrator (I still have a long way to go). I’ve had to learn on the fly but one advantage is that I’ve been actively able to model life-long learning to both my students and staff. I also appreciate that you write about the importance of connecting with people. I’ve seen first-hand how building positive relationships is also a great way to increase engagement.

    • Hi Ramin,
      Thank you for your comments and for sharing your own experiences. I agree that learning is an on-going process. By actively modeling your own learning, you make it safe for others to pursue theirs. Your students and staff are fortunate to have such a reflective and supportive leader.

  4. “I lead because I am a learner.”…how effective! People usually think the leader is the one who ‘knows more than others people do’. I agree with you in thinking that the leader is the one who knows how much he still has to learn and the one with the biggest ‘hunger’ for learning. I keep on admiring your insight!

    • Hi Silvia!
      Thank you for your comments. Being mindful and curious are essential elements of leadership. I think we need to keep our focus on the connection.
      I hope you are well.

  5. I totally agree with your thoughts about the need for leaders to understand why they want to lead. Leadership requires a desire to move the needle. Leaders need to spend time in self reflection. If you do not understand yourself, how can you help others reach their goals? Once you understand your own strengths and weakness, you can use what you have learned to help others grow. Seeing your own potential makes it easier to se the potential in others.

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