Yesterday I sat in a day-long conference for the clinical teachers (cooperating teachers who supervise student interns) from East Carolina University. The keynote speaker talked about the need for teacher-leaders. Of course we need teacher-leaders. But more importantly, in the words of a former principal, what does that look like?
What is a teacher-leader? Is that different from a leader in other capacities? I think maybe it is. To me, a teacher-leader is a person whose sphere of influence reaches the greatest distances. This person reaches their students, their students’ families, the communities in which they teach and live, the personnel in their school buildings and the teachers in their districts and states. Not only do teacher-leaders influence people, but they also teach others how to have the same sort of influence. Leadership by teachers is what will help to revive our schools and make them great. Students who are taught by those who understand their roles in the leadership continuum will benefit more than any others.
But, here’s my real issue. Does leadership have to be intentional? I threw that question out to my Twitter PLN. Here’s what they had to say…
john__: In my mind the word “intentional” is only one in the bucket of passionate
vedo: I don’t think so. You may not know what you do that leads someone to action or behavior change.
jackiegerstein: “Leadership is the wise use of power. Power is the capacity to translate intention into reality and sustain it.” Warren Bennis
adamhoughtonnh: Great question. I am not sure, but I am quite sure it cannot be accidental. To give the appearance of it being effortless.
bethanyvsmith: I think some of the best leaders don’t intend to lead people at all, they just do.
sjciske: Good questions but answers may be dependent on the state of those being led – different orgs have diff ldrshp needs
chollingsworth: best kinds of leadership are intentional, but yes, ppl can be leaders w/out asking to be. Depends on amt of influence they carry
chollingsworth: IMO intentional leadership is done with purpose, conviction, thought, planning. Just like intentional living,
mattguthrie: Leadership is intentional AND doing what is right is noble – the impact is always greater than the intention
So, what do you think? I think this is something worth exploring in depth. I have to wonder if true leaders develop because they want to or because they have to! Most people I admire as leaders have found themselves in their position as an unintentional by-product of their passionate approach to life. When I think of those who I see as leaders in education today, I think of classroom teachers who have taken their love of students, teaching and learning to new heights. I am quite sure that these individuals didn’t sit around their dining room tables and plot their courses to world domination. Instead, these people took the issues about which they were most passionate and did whatever it took (and continues to take) to keep them at the forefront.
So, does leadership have to be intentional? Or is true leadership born of passion and then it grows from necessity? What are your thoughts?