Scott Mcleod has organised Leadership Day, since 2007, by requesting that bloggers post their ideas on a range of pertinent edtech topics.

The 30th July has dawned and some reflection is in order.

Last year I wrote a response and quoted Seth Godin suggesting that leaders must be prepared to be ‘incompetent’ for a while in order to learn:

It doesn’t take a lot of time to change … to reinvent … or to redesign. No, it doesn’t take time; it takes will. The will to change. The will to take a risk. The will to become incompetent – at least for a while.

This year, it feels important to be more strident in choice of quotes, as the pace of change sees many falling so far behind that it becomes ‘dangerous’ – in the sense that Scott titles his blog, “Dangerously Irrelevant” – for our educational institutions. It is ‘dangerous’ for our systems and student learning opportunities but also, for the individual professional themselves. It is dangerous to sense of self if individual learners are not engaged in, and modelling, life-long learning and appear to be moribund or neo-luddite in attitude.

Here’s some quite pointed wisdom from Eric Shinseki, as quoted by Tom Peters, which has occasionally led to robust debate about leaders and technology with delegates/workshop participants in my sessions:

If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less

The best advice to any educational leader that can be given, IMHO, is to do the following, to personally stay engaged, in the quest to ‘stay relevant’ and engaged in learning:

  1. Talk incessantly to students with your ears about the tools and lifestyle they live with technology and what they want to learn about
  2. Walk the walk and smile; create opportunities for the enthusiastic at your place of learning. To do this one needs to read, read, read
  3. Set personal edtech related learning and sharing goals eg I want to have a school leadership blog to share my journey and professionally grow colleagues or I want to master Photoshop to help me represent ideas better (even better, help someone else on the team to achieve their goals)
  4. Learn about and organise RSS feeds into a reader from an ever-growing number of sites, blogs and professional sources. This leads to ongoing awareness of what changes would be best at your learning establishment
  5. Learn how to (and actually) use social media tools. My favs are Flickr, delicious, twitter and/or yammer – what are yours?
  6. Spend time online every day to establish routines
  7. Get a smartphone which allows one to stay in touch with the above in any spare moments to effectively manage time
  8. Publicly discuss/blog your errors and areas you just did not intellectually ‘get’; make it ok to fail at your place of learning. Facilitate authentic dialogue.
  9. Present about your journey and more interesting things at conferences to stay in, and help make, the loop
  10. Mentor and nurture those ‘above’ and ‘below’ you in the leadership pyramid and seek the same in return, wherever possible, to keep learning from others

At our school we talk about, “who can I help, who can help me?” This is due to our belief that a sound approach for leaders is to have the fundamental responsibility to help ‘create more leaders’. We need more educators willing to take on formal and informal leadership roles; it is really important as our profession ages comparative to the workforce.

To conclude this post for #leadershipday10 I need to reiterate, it is all about life-long learning and my favourite quote for us educators is from the late Garth Boomer, who said:

We teach others by teaching ourselves anew



    • Stu

    • 14 years ago

    Leadership and “what a leader is” certainly has changed in the 21st century. Just like the “Sage of the Stage” is a long-lost concept of teaching due to students being empowered by easy access to alternative sources of knowledge, the exact same can be said for our school leaders. Knowledge was one of the key attributes of a leader in the past. A statement like, “She leads us because she KNOWS more than we where to go.” holds far less weight than it once used to.

    The problem of being a leader for too long is you can get set in your old ways, but al the while, the world around you is changing. A 21st Century Leader must be able to at least keep up with the change, even if once upon a time in the past, they were actually able to drive it.

    Unlearning and relearning are often just as important as lifelong learning.

      • Darcy Moore

      • 14 years ago

      Thanks Stu. You are suggesting that paradox abounds for ‘leaders’ who think they know the way when you say, “she KNOWS more than we where to go”?

  1. Hi Darcy, well said.
    “At our school we talk about, “who can I help, who can help me?” This is due to our belief that a sound approach for leaders is to have the fundamental responsibility to help ‘create more leaders’. We need more educators willing to take on formal and informal leadership roles” So true.
    I am not sure if this would add to the leadership challenge: Is leadership about change? About leading the change to improve and innovate…
    Would it not just be the educator’s “business”, but every educator’s “business” in the quest towards leadership “practice”? Leadership by role modelling to our students, to our peers, to our superiors, to our clients, and to our fellow networkers? Without such leaderhsip by action, changes would easily be slowed down, and any plans of actions would be implemented in a superficial manner.
    If every educator could take the lead in responding to such changes, would he/she be able to embrace change, and support others in the change journey?
    Often we witnessed changes happening in education to satisfy certain requirements – be it the administrators, the customers, our fellow educators, students, and stakeholders, etc., but then the ego of an educator may often goes so deep into “leadership” role that the leaders might have forgotten (a) the why, how and what, and who are involved in those changes, (b) the real needs of other “leaders” and “followers” in the change journey, and (c) the motivations and values associated people involved
    So, would leadership need to consider the people involved in the changes too? What do they think about leadership? What do they think about the changes?

      • Darcy Moore

      • 14 years ago

      John, these are great questions.

      Any leader’s motivations are, I am certain, complex and ever-changing. I am motivated, I suspect, by a need to see new landscapes and ideas. Mum said to me 30 years ago, and I have always remembered it, “Darcy, why does everything have to happen yesterday?”

      When I see kids sitting in classrooms without a computer, internet access or a mobile device having no say in what they learn it makes me feel sad and very very impatient and angry. I want all this to be fixed ‘yesterday’.

      My own children are commencing their journey through the school system so my motivations are not just ‘professional’. I want them to have a top quality experience of learning. I want them to be self-directed and savvy, just like their teachers will be.

      The other question I grapple with, John, is to do with how ‘the people involved in the changes’ and even this blog post feel, with some quite negative comments about ‘falling behind’. This makes me worry. Positivity begats positivity but there is also ‘reality’. The pace of change is leaving many adults behind. That’s why I like Ryan Bretag’s post so much and hope that many take his advice.

      ‘Leaders’ must consider the impact of their leadership on others and need to have a ‘sixth sense’ about it…which will clearly get it wrong sometimes. The spirit that acknowledges mistakes and accepts that others have a right to see it differently, is essential. Sometimes the leader needs to just keep going. Sometimes pausing is better. Often, a moral imperative will have leaders setting sail, as there is just, simply put, no choice left any more.

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