My leadership style is primarily participative. Consultation contributes to more effective decisions leveraging the collective wisdom of the group, and, by soliciting their input, a greater degree of participant interest and satisfaction (Yukl, 2013, p. 107). No one has all the answers, but together, in an open and trusting environment, all of us can collaborate toward a solution (Bennis, 2009, p. 133). Consultation and delegation within a shared philosophical framework serves to build support, personal investment, and leadership capacity amongst participants (Yukl, 2013, p. 384).
Articulation of an organization’s governing ideas in the form of vision, mission, and belief statements, offer a framework for decision making (Yukl, 2013, p. 89). Working with organizational stakeholders in such a process helps form a rich understanding of the thoughts and sentiments upon which the statements were constructed. Existing statements can be deconstructed affording participants the same level of understanding. This is a worthwhile pursuit every few years to keep the ideas fresh and front-of-mind.
When decisions need to be made quickly, or in isolation, having a clear understanding of the shared philosophy offers a framework for decision making. As a participative leader, I may have ultimate responsibility for a decision, but holding a decision to the organizations’ governing ideas ensures that those decisions will reflect the shared philosophy and vision (Senge, 1990, p. 223).
Grassroots leadership: leading from within.
Although I have a clear vision for education, it emphasizes what should be done and why, rather than describing how things should be done. This allows participants to implement strategies they feel best suit their learners and themselves and still work toward achievement of the shared vision. Such professional autonomy contributes to a greater sense of empowerment and greater commitment, initiative, persistence, optimism, and job satisfaction (Yukl, 2013, p. 129).
I value innovation and am interested in new initiatives that meet the needs of today’s learners. As a reflective practitioner, I recognize strengths and weaknesses in programs, will address what needs changing and highlight what is working well (Fullan, 2011). Reflecting on both successes and failures in an open and supportive way lead to a deeper understanding of how to be more effective. I am also willing to listen to other points of view; challenge and opposition in the early stages of innovation can help identify unforeseen problems that, when addressed, can make the innovation even more effective (Fullan, 2011, p. 30).
Philosophy of Leadership
Purposeful leaders are inspired by a clear and shared vision, motivated by a desire to improve conditions, and driven by commitment and integrity. Purposeful leadership is lived, not just performed as a job function.
Achieving organizational goals is the motivation rather than personal advancement; intrinsic rewards are more motivating to a purposeful leader than external rewards (Yukl, 2013, p. 311). Congruity among behavior, values, and vision contributes to a sense of self-identification with the organizational goals (Bennis, 2009, p. 152). Others in the organization attribute greater charisma to such a leader and will be more open to the leader’s influence.
Sustaining Purposeful Leadership
Authentic leadership seeks alignment amongst behaviors, values, and vision: where I want to go is consistent with what is important to me, and the choices I make serve to advance organizational goals. Commitment to the vision and consistency over the long term evokes a sense of trust from others leading to greater cooperation. Consistency is easier to sustain when leadership is authentic and purposeful.
Bennis, W. (2009). On becoming a leader (20th Aniv.). New York, NY: Basic Books.
Fullan, M. (2011). Change leader: Learning to do what matters most. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Senge, P. M. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. New York, NY: Doubleday.
Yukl, G. (2013). Leadership in organizations (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Prentice Hall.