For many of us, part of this last year was spent entrenched in a job search. As spring approached, we said our goodbyes, packed up, and shipped our stuff off to our next adventure. In many ways our physical transition has already happened, but stuck in summer, it’s easy to exist in the in-between. If you’re like me, then you’re also transitioning into a full-time admin position. In someways this summer feels similar to two years ago when I became a dad for the first time. The summer was filled with transitions, purchasing, and thinking about the future. Then suddenly I was at the hospital, our daughter was born, and a day later we were saying goodbye to the nurses, and thinking ‘wait a second am I really qualified to do this?’
Actually the birth of a child is an appropriate metaphor for a career in leadership, in the sense, that no matter how much preparation a person does, you can’t truly understand the responsibility until your holding your helpless child…or in the case of leadership standing in front of a room of suspicious teachers promoting the next big idea. However, like a child learns and grows though experience and parenting, our careers mature as we do more and more and work closely with others. Still the road leaders must often walk in the community can be lonely. Over the last few months, I’ve been meandering through the book “Leading with a Limp” by Dr. Dan Allendar, President of Mars Hill Graduate School in Seattle, Washington. In his book he describes the ruthless expectations we have for leaders saying,
“If we’re honest, we’ll admit that we want that person to be a professional, an expert. We want that person to be different from us (so we can look up to him) and yet be similar enough to share our values and our perspective. We are ambivalent about leaders, to say the least. Consider what we require…a leader must be physically attractive…fluent in public speaking…we expect a leader to make tough decisions–to fire his close friend if necessary or to send troops into harm’s way–yet we want him to tear up over a sad story and be sentimental on Mother’s Day.”
Allendar goes onto say “we require our leaders to be perfect–or at least much more prefect than we are–and then we reserve the right to pick them clean like vultures that have patiently waited for the wounded beast to stop twitching.”
To say the very least, leadership is not easy. In fact Dr. Allendar concludes that the most reasonable option for anyone considering a role in leadership is to run the opposite direction. Truthfully, Allendar’s advice to run is wise, especially if your intentions to step into a leadership position are for the sake of a promotion or pay raise. However, for those of us who feel a calling towards leadership, we would be smart to count the cost before stepping into our new roles, and think about how to successfully enter into our new communities with a disposition of service that will help us transition. So for those of you who are stepping into new and more challenging roles this year, good luck…and do us all a favor and use your last few weeks to make a entry plan. On the other hand if you’re welcoming a new leader to your school, be kind 🙂
Do you remember when you first stepped into a new leaderhsip role? What do you remember? Leave some advice for the next generation of leaders in the comment section.