Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What does it mean to be a responsible leader?

It's the day after the Florida Republican Primary and the newspapers are abuzz with the analysis of the win Mitt Romney had in this preliminary contest for the presidential election. While I am not endorsing any candidate at this time, watching and reading the verbiage about leadership has been quite interesting for this 21st Century School Leader.

The opening article in the Daily News-Journal (Daytona Beach, FL) was an interesting quote that was meant to be a direct attack on President Obama by Mr. Romney: "Leadership is about taking responsibility, not making excuses." (January 31, 2011)

In considering that point it is important to analyze that idea. Is leadership about taking responsibility or not?

Maj. Jim Annexstad, USAF, writing a position paper on the manner the military was correcting issues with America's nuclear program stated something similar : "True leadership is taking ownership and accepting responsibility. " I like that definition, much better; ownership and responsibility are key factors in making a significant difference in moving an organization forward.

In school organizations, we are usually in the position of attacking the decision makers for the complicated decisions and mandates that are foisted upon our schools. The political wanna-be's are quite numerous in criticizing quality teaching and interfering in the learning process. So, what are true leaders to do?

How can 21st Century School Leaders take a few steps above the blame game and get to the real issue of helping students achieve?

Carole Nicolaides, a leadership consultant and writer created a great model for business organizations to use in training leaders to be more\ responsible and effective ("Taking Responsibility- A Step Toward Progressive Leadership" at I think it is an excellent model or school leaders to adopt as well.
1) Be Aware: paying attention to how we respond when questioned about our actions or performance.
2) Respond responsibly: We have a choice of responding impulsively or reacting cautiously to a situation.
3) Be honest: Who else is paying the price for your irresponsible actions?
4) Don't burn bridges: What happens to relationships when you place blame?
5) Be a good role model: When others see you accepting responsibility for your actions you become a role model for others encouraging responsible behavior.
6) Have a positive and grateful attitude: being a highly effective leader means accepting nothing less than excellence from yourself and others.

In the words of Lou Holtz, (Retired NY Jets Football Coach, 1976): "The man that complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to have been the one that dropped it."

Leaders are all among us, and we need to all step up and carry the torch for quality change in our schools.

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