If you haven’t seen the movie “Frozen” yet, I highly recommend it. While I did see it with my girls originally, I absolutely saw it again with a grown up friend…it’s that good! One of the main characters is Elsa, who is voiced by Idina Menzel. She has an icy curse and at a climatic point in the movie, comes to terms with her powers and sings “Let it Go“. Several of the lyrics jumped out at me as “leadership lessons”…what do you think?
“A kingdom of isolation, and it looks like I’m the Queen”
Being in a leadership position can feel lonely, like you’re on an “Admin Island” sometimes. This is why a PLN is so important to have. There should be people that you can share, grow, and learn from. Networking in any form is important, whether it be within your building or across the world. The smartest person in the room, IS the room, remember? That and any good leadership course will remind you that many voices can make good choices, that’s where the whole site based decision-making committee comes in.
“Don’t let them in, don’t let them see, Be the good girl you always have to be, Conceal don’t feel, don’t let them know, Well now they know”
I am firm believer in transparent leadership.
Being open and available, and most importantly, being real with your staff is an important trait. Being transparent is a powerful thing, if you can trust yourself and be trusted by others. I think the reason some leaders are not transparent is because they believe they will be viewed as less authoritative; that the “title” they worked so hard to attain will lose their power, leverage and authority. People want to relate to their leaders. People want to know that their leaders have experienced the same problems and/or how they have overcome personal hardships. If relationships are at the core of success in education, it starts with transparency.
“I don’t care, What they’re going to say, Let the storm rage on, The cold never bothered me anyway”
As a leader, you will often have to make tough decisions. This is one of the biggest challenges of leadership. Some can handle it; others can’t. Regardless, it will define your leadership. You will be judged by others largely on the basis of how well you do under pressure. You will make mistakes, it is inevitable. That being said, what you do after those mistakes is what will define your leadership ability. George Bush’s approval rating was above 90% following 9/11. It had plummeted to 30% by the time he left office. He is noted for “not caring”. Chasing popularity, he stated, is like chasing a vapor. It is here today and gone tomorrow. Instead, you have to make decisions based on principle and let the chips fall where they may. If you are doing what’s right for KIDS then you can feel good about the decisions you make, even if they are tough. I had a friend who texted me recently that he was writing his first “non-renewal” letter as an administrator, and that it wasn’t as easy as he thought it was going to be. Tough decisions, even when right, don’t always feel good.
“It’s funny how some distance, Makes everything seem small, And the fears that once controlled me, Can’t get to me at all”
Effective leaders initiate and innovate. They have the courage to make decisions, and their actions lead people toward the pursued objective. As former first lady Rosalynn Carter once said, “A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” Just like the lessons you learned your first year teaching, with each year of administration under your belt, you’ll learn a bit more. With luck, with each minor obstacle you face, you will grow and stretch. I’m a big fan of journaling and take copious notes with each situation I’ve encountered. Bluntly identifying what went right, what went wrong, and in hindsight, how it should have been handled, is both therapeutic and eye-opening. I’ve done this since I was in elementary school…but back then it was about what I wanted to see in my classroom. Since then, it has evolved into leadership lessons but it’s something I reference often. Particularly at the beginning of the year, I reread the trials and triumphs of the previous years to help make sure things flow more smoothly than before.
I genuinely think I could apply almost every line of this song to an administrative principle. It’s an empowering song, I challenge you to listen to it with a leadership lens and see if you can see it too.