I just finished a Master's in Education degree with an emphasis on "Leadership Studies."
So I should probably reflect on leadership for a minute.
I don't have much leadership experience. In churches and church functions, I lead music for a few years and sat on a few boards. Since I got married in 2006, however, I've generally stayed out of volunteering and leadership roles. My home life has been too tumultuous to take any more time out than necessary. Even with my experience in churches and teaching, my leadership practice, per se, is out of shape.
And I'm OK with that. I've always preferred to jump into the fire of assignments and roles. When I did my teaching practicum in 2005, I didn't jump on opportunities to teach in front of the class before I needed to; I saw no need to put on airs in a space where I had no authority. And when I stepped in front of the class on the first day, I knew I didn't know what I was doing, but I didn't regret refraining from jumping in front of a class before my time. I prefer the baptism-by-fire, learn-as-you-go approach.
Since 2012, I have been studying Leadership at UVic, and I just received my credential to show that my degree is finished. Throughout the degree, I've read a lot of literature about leadership in schools and businesses and had a lot of organization-based discussions. I've heard quite a few leadership buzzwords: "transformative leadership," "instructional leadership," "vision," etc.. And, to be honest, I haven't cared for much of it. Jargon annoys me.
Because I don't think successful leadership depends on a particular, singular, identifiable "style." I think successful leadership depends on making sure you, as a leader, can empathically thrive in your position in an organization. If people see you thriving, they will likely follow you.
I am reminded of reading Losing the Signal: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Blackberry a few months ago. That book highlighted an organization whose leaders could not empathize with their organization or market and simultaneously thrive. When they empathized, they felt blocked; when they thrived, the organization suffered.
On the other hand, Arthur Nash found a way to thrive himself and empathize with his employees. He was a leader who garnered followers and loyalty and kept sight of his goals and market. He found a way to simultaneously maintain empathy and thrive in his position.
I'd like to find a place where I can both empathize with people and thrive myself. I can't say I'm doing that right now. However, I am not a person "driven" by any singular ambition. I like to cast a wide net of interests and goals, and it's with that wide net that I thrive.
I just need to find something to step into, something to be baptized-in by fire. For now, I'm at peace with austere self-improvement.
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