I’m not sure that I’ve ever given much thought to leadership. For the greater part of my life I’ve been the cog in a wheel. Granted I’ve occasionally been a sticky cog, but for the most part, I’ve been content to just do my job. What I wanted from my leaders was for them to essentially leave me along, unless I needed them…to be working in the background, providing me with guidance when I appeared to be in trouble, support when I needed it.
Several years back, I got to be a leader. A middle level leader without much power, but I was responsible for leading a department. I don’t think I did it very well. I can lead a classroom. I can lead a group of professionals through a workshop. But the rest of leadership isn’t something for which I had any training or real preparation.
The only reference point I have is teaching. Leading a classroom. But that doesn’t work exactly.
I think I took for granted the *good* leaders in my life. I had two really good principals. People who cared deeply about the work they were doing, who felt it mattered, who were as engaged as I was in the work I was doing. Those leaders were also knowledgeable. When I went to them for advice I got the feeling that they knew exactly what they were talking about…or if they didn’t know, they were willing to do the work with me to find out. They did what they said they were going to do, and you could bank on that.
I feel like those are the leaders I want to be. I’m not sure that I get there.
I read a quote last night about leadership that has been like a punch in the gut.
“Being a leader doesn’t mean being given power. It means working with people who believe in you.
Be the person people can believe in, and you´ll have your power. If you believe in it yourself.”
Whew. I’m not entirely sure that I believe I can be the leader the people who work for and with me need, and I suppose that’s a big part of the problem. I feel every day like I’m completely and totally out of my element, feeling my way in the dark. That’s not a good thing because I think most of my people are looking to me to show them the way through the dark, getting them safe to the light.
I don’t know exactly what I need right this moment. I know I am frustrated by a lack of leadership, and that frustration is making it increasingly difficult for me to do my job. It is certainly making it difficult for me to enjoy my job. Here is not a good place to be, and I need to figure out what the next move is.
What has helped you be a better leader? Or what have you admired about the people that you consider good leaders? How do you deal with a lack of leadership?