Friday, February 22, 2013

Are you the Caretaker of a Cemetery, or the Leader of a Dynamic School?

Americans can't help but reflect on the recent travails of the United States Congress. Arguably the most embattled leader through the harried "fiscal cliff" talks was Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner. Trying to hold the Republican Party together during negotiations may have cost him political capital, but what one Representative poignantly said in a recent New York Times article (January 4, 2012) spoke most clearly to the leadership challenge Boehner faced during the talks:

“It’s a little bit like being the head caretaker of the cemetery,” said Representative Hal Rogers, the Kentucky Republican, describing the challenge Mr. Boehner [faced] “There are a lot of people under you, but nobody listens.”

I have come to learn the importance of garnering the respect of my subordinates after experiencing my own trials in various leadership positions. My key to garnering the admiration of my faculty and administration team has lied in my ability to be nurturing, personable and caring while standing firm on my vision and making clear to all that I will not tolerate mediocrity.

The headline of the New York Times article to which I refer, "Liked but Not Feared, Boehner Keeps a Job..." echoes the lesson I learned- be a likable leader, but one who is feared for his willingness to assert a vision to promote world class learning communities the sole benefit being to promote the well-being of children.

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