Monday, October 17, 2016

Leadership Lessons From A Dancing Guy

The work I do allows me to travel all across the US and the globe talking to various groups of people about all aspects of education. One of my favorite things to talk about is leadership. For example, I will work with groups of Principals or Superintendents to talk about what technology leadership looks like or how they can grow their leadership through the use of technology tools.

In our sessions we will often begin by trying to define leadership. Defining leadership is actually pretty easy. I'll let Marriam-Webister's Dictionary do that for us:

  • a position as a leader of a group, organization, etc.
  • the time when a person holds the position of leader
  • the power or ability to lead other people

And while I can't really disagree with those definitions they don't really speak to the heart of what leadership means.

In education we have lots of leaders. Superintendents, Principals, other positions of power, actual or perceived. However, being a leader isn't one of position or even power. It's those qualities that people possess that make us want to follow and work as hard as we can. Teachers can be leaders. Students can be leaders. Parents can be leaders.

From time to time we all need to be reminded what awesome leadership looks like.

And when I need that reminder I turn to the Dancing Guy.

There is a lot Dancing Guy can teach us about our own leadership.

Ask yourself these questions...

Do you have guts? This guy is my hero. He felt something inside his soul. The music made him want to move. He didn't care what others would think. He got up and started moving. Kinda like in schools sometimes. Being the first person to stand up and dance is risky but often times it starts a movement. We have to have guts to be a leader. Leading is tough and standing up for what is right (which often isn't what everyone believes in) takes guts.

Are you easy to follow? The leadership Dancing Guy provides is instructional almost, as the video points out. So from the very beginning people watching know it is going to be easy to mimic.

Kinda like schools sometimes. Leaders need to lead in a way that is easy for others to follow. Nothing complex. And being followed shouldn't be a difficult task. Just simple leadership to drive change.

Do You Lead Publicly? When the first follower decides to embrace the leadership, Dancing Guy doesn't just keep doing. He shows the follower how to do the dance. He embraces the follower and wants him to feel as good as he does.

Kinda like schools sometimes. When we want people to follow, we not only need to be easy to follow but we need to do it in a way that is easy for others to embrace. Sometimes that means showing them. Modeling good leadership is an important skill to master. Like the video says, "he embraces the follower as an equal. So it's not about the leader any more." Leading publically means more than just in the classroom or in the building. Leading means connecting with other leaders to discuss and debate. We have to look beyond our walls and seek out those connections.

Is Your Movement Public? Once that first follower follows and they both are embracing the dance others begin to join in. Their (notice is plural now) leadership is public and then becomes a movement. And that movement is public for all to see.

Kinda like schools sometimes. If the leadership wants to gain momentum and followers we have to make our movements public. Using social media tools can help. Showing what you are doing on your school Facebook page or Twitter account, posting videos to You Tube about the movement, talking to others. The more open your movement, the easier it is for more followers to join in. Like the video says, " Everyone needs to see the followers because followers emulate followers, not the leader."

Does Your Movement Have Momentum? Once we get 2 then 3 then more followers the momentum takes over and the movement is in full force. More and more people join in and then the tipping point. This is the time at which people feel compelled to join in because there are more followers now than watchers.

Kinda like schools sometimes. Once the movement gains steam and more and more followers join there comes a point at which people feel they have to join. They don't want to be "that guy" looking from the sidelines while the movement passes them by. So if we include the ideas from above, if our movement is public and we are modeling what we want and we foster leadership in others than it is that much easier to lead. It actually takes care of itself doesn't it?

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