Over the holiday break, I committed to advancing my own leadership skills. In the year ahead, I want to continue to improve and learn as much as I can about what is important on behalf of every student as I continue my professional and personal journey around equity, diversity and inclusion.
I stumbled upon the work and leadership videos of Simon Sinek, including an 18-minute clip titled “How Great Leaderships Inspire Action” that really resonated with me. I encourage you to listen to it on the way to work or over coffee.
The piece reminded me of SHAPE America — who we are as an organization and what we believe in as leaders, volunteers and dedicated staff. It also reminded me about the systems we work in each day — universities, schools and school districts — and what that structure can sometimes do to isolate us.
We have to find trust in our leaders at every level, and as leaders we must cultivate that environment. Simon Sinek’s simple takeaway (in case you don’t have 18 minutes to listen) is:
People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.
When you proclaim yourself as a leader — in the field, in your school, in your community, in your organization — you are no longer thinking about yourself. You are thinking about the good of those you serve.
Many think leaders are at the top — they have the power and they make all the decisions. None of this is true of inspirational, servant leaders. I met several of them during my time in Washington, DC, at Education Week’s 2018 Leaders to Learn From event. They all had kindness pouring out of them, regardless of whether they were principals, superintendents or supervisors.
You see, Simon Sinek reminds us that leadership is not a rank, it’s a choice. The willingness to share, be patient, be a student of what you do, and advocate for your beliefs … this is what makes a great leader. A new book on administrative leadership in PE, Organization and Administration of Physical Education, further defines those attributes in our field.
So, what do I want you to know from all this?
We worry a lot in our profession every day about the things that don’t matter the most. We seek guidance from SHAPE America on the “HOW” of what we do — assessment, lesson plans, curriculum — and rightfully so.
However, without a deep sense of “WHY” your classroom won’t come to life for students the way it should.
You don’t need a degree or certificate in administration to call yourself a leader. You just have to be one. You’ve got children’s lives in your capable care and there’s no time to waste.
Propose a family information night on the dangers of Juuling, have a wellness fair, do a kindness day at school, prepare a presentation for your board of education. No one is stopping you but you.
A successful teacher and/or leader doesn’t have their feet up on their desk during their prep period … they are thinking about and engaging in behaviors that serve kids. What are you doing with your prep time? Do you know someone with their feet up? Start leading and share this blog post with them.
This month, I ask that — in addition to your teaching — you lead on behalf of all children. That’s right, all children … no matter who they are, where they are from, or who they love. Happy New Year!
President of SHAPE America from 2018-2019.