Little Green Librarian

Blogging my way through a Masters in Teacher Librarianship at CSU!

Following the leader?

July14

Image of a group of animals being led by a person.

When it comes to leadership, I have a lot to learn. It isn’t that I’ve never been a leader – I definitely have, on many an occasion – it is more that I have never engaged with any of the literature on what makes an effective leader that people want to follow!

One commonality between leadership styles I have noticed in my reading so far is focused intention. We’ve all experienced ineffective leaders who have essentially fallen into their positions or have been promoted beyond their ability to get the job done, and one key thing they lack is focused intention. Those underneath them either flounder or work it out on their own or amongst themselves. Either way, it isn’t particularly effective! In my experience, those who have a clear idea about what they want to achieve and a plan for how to get there are more effective as leaders.

A lot of the terminology I have read so far is unfamiliar to me in a leadership context: transactional vs. transformational, for example, really made me think about my own practice as a leader. Do I trade one thing for another or do I focus on facilitating change? I actually wasn’t sure, so completing a quiz on my leadership style helped to clarify my thoughts.

My quiz results suggested that my leadership style is democratic/participative. Some of the comments about this style really support my beliefs about leading teams in my school context. I believe that while some elements do need to be commonly established, team members need to be given the space to be creative and to approach things from their own angle. This helps all team members to experience satisfaction and ownership of their work. Also, taking on board the ideas of others while maintaining clear leadership ensures transparency of the leadership process. One comment on this style, however, really struck me: democratic leadership is considered on of the most effective leadership styles in ideal situations. In my context, the situation isn’t always ideal. Roles (including my own as leader) are not always clearly defined, insufficient release time is provided to effectively manage the team, some team members have had difficulty accepting leadership/direction from someone on the same pay grade (no, really – I was shocked too!) and the goalposts of the team’s responsibility are often changed by those above us. So, perhaps some of the occasional failures of this leadership style in my context might be attributed to this. I certainly have been known to be idealistic from time to time, so it may be that I have been pitching my leadership too high for the situation. As such, I’m looking forward to learning more about different leadership styles to give me better ideas about how to lead in less-than-ideal situations.

So what kind of leader do I want to be? A realistic one. I want to be able to clearly read a situation and adjust my leadership style accordingly. I don’t want to be a dictator, but I don’t want my head in the clouds either. My current understanding is that good leadership is knowing your people and the goals of your organisation well, and using that information to craft an effective plan that utilises the talents of the team, giving members the opportunity to work toward achieving personal goals, all the while collectively working toward the goals of the organisation. It is also about a balance of heart and head – sacrificing neither the needs of the team nor the needs of the organisation. I’ll be interested to see if my understanding changes throughout this unit of study!

 

References

Marzano, R.J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B.A. (2005). Some theories and theorists on leadership. School leadership that works: From research to results (pp.13-27). Alexandria, VA.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

 

Image source: Leading the Animals by Nemo. Public Domain. http://pixabay.com/en/animals-cat-man-silhouette-dog-32878/

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