Thursday, July 12, 2007

How Do Great Leaders Get That Way?

Do you know someone who exemplifies outstanding educational leadership? Who mentored you or served as a role model for others? Who typifies the very word "leadership"?

How'd they get that way?

Last week in the Seattle P-I, guest writer and professional accredited coach Maureen Moriarty asks that very question (though slightly more eloquently). In "Workplace Coach: Becoming a great leader depends on skill, not talent," she makes the case that great leaders are not born, but rather made through ongoing professional development and continuous improvement. Her premise: though it may come easier for some than others, leadership is something most people -- even the best of the best -- must continue to work on.
Personal traits like integrity and character are more on the born, not made, side, as well as drive and cognitive/problem-solving ability. However, without experience, training and mentoring, personal traits are not enough. No one is born with a natural ability to effectively lead. Traits like business acumen, coaching/mentoring skills, persuasiveness and emotional intelligence are learned and developed, often over a lifetime.
Moriarty goes on to provide a telling list of characteristics found in most successful leaders today (they are adaptable, they encourage feedback). Although the column may be aimed at the traditional business environment, each of the traits she describes are very applicable to K-12 educational leadership roles.

1 comment:

Matthew K. Tabor said...

I believe that great leaders also depend on the proper circumstances. Many times we've seen sub-standard leaders flourish in the right environment and traditionally-excellent leaders be useless. Circumstances, for better or worse, matter a great deal.