The definition of leadership is influence. The challenge of leadership is conflict. The result of leadership is change. Actually, nothing about the pure essence of leadership requires a position of authority or power. We once heard Vicki Clark say it best: “anyone who influences anyone else is a leader.”
We call this “presently leading” for two reasons: 1. The definition demonstrates that the individual who is influencing others, addressing challenges, and creating positive change is a leader regardless of title. And, 2. Effective leaders are available for those they lead and work with. They show up each day (even if it’s on Zoom).
With that said, there is a leadership pitfall that we have to be cautious about, which is the default to micromanaging. Being present doesn’t mean that you’re always at the forefront of the decision, hanging around to get asked the next question. This is actually one way that leaders put a lid on the growth of an organization and paralyze progress. Instead, one key to being a present leader is sharing the responsibility of the situation and allowing others to take charge. The following 3-minute challenge is designed for you to appoint an Initiative Lead to spread your ability to be present in the best way that you can.
Being a present leader means that you have people on the team who can take the lead so that you can have more flexibility in your day and so that others can take the reins. If you’re always in the midst of the decision-making protocols, not only will you be bogged down, unable to truly show up, but you’ll be stuck in management mode versus leading groups of passionate people. Take the following challenge and you’ll ironically step out of the way to be more present.
- Reflect: Think about a recent task or initiative that consumes too much of your time. These tasks are keeping you from other important work, and you might not even be the most informed person about how they should function.
- Identify: Identify a subject matter expert (SME) who you know has the skills and information to lead the task or initiative. This is typically already your go-to person for this work.
- Do: Put that person in charge as the Initiative Lead. Even without a title change, they can become the center of control regarding the decisions and workload. Communicate to the rest of the team that you trust and support this person to lead the changes.
Pro Tip: We mentioned “subject matter expert” or SME above, which is primarily a business term, used infrequently in education. But the concept is viable. What it means is that you need to build your SMEs–making sure that people are the experts on any given topic. Use the example of advanced placement coursework. Your AP SME Initiative Lead will be the person who you send to any and all (virtual or otherwise) conferences to be the most informed in that area. If you serve them as the expert, they can serve the team with their knowledge and newly found presence.
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