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I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Who has influenced you in your leadership abilities? Insights from Haitian principals

This week I am teaching a Masters-level course in school leadership in Haiti. There are 45 participants who are progressing toward a Master of Education degree.

In my work in different contexts, whether Canada, Haiti, Ghana, or Thailand, I have always been impressed with the dedication that principals have to leading effective schools. I have never met a school leader who said, "Oh, I really just want to lead a mediocre school." Even with limited resources, as is the case for many of the participants in the current course, principals often find innovative ways to address the needs of their students and teachers.

Yesterday, I gave each principal a picture of a tree and asked them to write onto the leaves all of the leadership qualities, skills, and dispositions that they think they have. I then asked them to consider the roots of the tree and to identify the various people, activities, or events that contributed to these qualities. Tonight, as I reviewed the products of this simple assignment, I have been amazed at the qualities these leaders have identified. I am even more impressed at what (or who) they have identified as having contributed to these abilities.

It reminds me that none of us become a leader by simply reading a book or following a specific formula. Most of my leadership abilities I can directly tie to people who have invested in me and mentored me. It is a good reminder for me to be deliberate and intentional in speaking into the lives of "emerging leaders" to encourage them, challenge them, and to model for them what it means to be an effective leader.

Who has influenced you as a leader? Who have you influenced?

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