M2D13: Servant Leadership (Leadership IVb)

Monday again. Only two more regular Mondays before it’s “summer.” By which I mean the time of year when I don’t work 40 hours a week. Summer this year looks a little different, so instead of vacation I’m planning to add another graduate course in an endorsement program for an administrative-level (read: leadership) license. I think that could become one of my SMART goals. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of writing SMART goals, they are Specific or Strategic, Measurable, Achievable or Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Note that some letters can have other interpretations, like Realistic. I like to add the caveat that the steps leading to attainment of the goal should be within your control. I was once “assigned” a goal that had to do with sales of a product that I helped produce and support. However, I had nothing to do with marketing or sales! Goals that are within one’s power to achieve are much more motivating.

Rebbe is not a fan of Mondays—or planning.

So what is my first Leadership SMART goal? Through study and application of gifted education and educational leadership concepts, I will earn the gifted director endorsement from CDE within two years. Specific, measurable, and time-bound, for sure. Is it achievable? Sure, the program exists and I have added it to my current graduate school enrollment. Is it relevant and strategic? I think so.

One of my colleagues (who is a year ahead of me on the same graduate school path) talked about needing the language of administrators to be able to better advocate for gifted students. I concurred and added that I also want to work on building a collaborative culture among gifted coordinators and ensuring that common tools are in place so they are able to devote their energy to meeting gifted kids’ needs rather than just the bureaucratic requirements. Those are also goals. They aren’t yet SMART goals, but the director of the director program is reading these posts, so I am committing myself to pursuing them. 😄

But back to servant leadership. Robert Greenleaf wrote in his 1970 essay “The Servant as Leader:”

The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature. (Retrieved from https://www.greenleaf.org/what-is-servant-leadership/)

The last sentence opens the door to nuance, which I think is a path forward for me. Servant-leadership, though noble, is in some ways a reaction or rebuke to leader-first systems of power and leadership. But the world is never that black and white.

While I wish to continue to share power, put the needs of others first, and help others develop and perform as highly as possible (descriptors of servant leadership), I also want to learn to hold my team members accountable for what the system or project requires of them. This is part of what I hope to gain from study of educational leadership. How would I state this as a SMART goal? Over the next three years, I will develop my leadership skills and dispositions so that I am able to have productive individual conversations with at least ten teachers or collaborators about their goals, challenges, and responsibilities each academic year. I guess Dare to Lead is next on my to-read list…

Before that, there will be LEGO. Box 9 is a snowman ⛄️

Here you can see the “instructions” that are provided for each mini-model. The snowman has a minifigure head, and—even more exciting—a top hat.

Swapping hats. Cub Scout snowman?

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