Assessment of Strategic Leadership
While I am not currently in a professional position of leadership, as I am on paternity leave, I was called to many positions of leadership throughout my life. I began my leadership journey working with teens at church and summer camp. It was in this situation I began to realize while I had the ability to guide and direct these children; I needed to commit to their growth to see it in them. My leaders called me to stick with them or they would fall away. They did not see true leadership is a team effort (Hughes, et al., 2014, p.42)
Through many years of personal growth, I came to the place where I recognize leadership requires the support of many. I am presently a grade 5 teacher who also teaches Computers and Physical Education. In my work situation I try and direct students with the principals of servant leadership, guiding from the back for their personal development, calling them to their best productivity for the benefit of the team. I attempt to challenge students in many ways to provide fresh learning. I value inclusion in class discussion and learning and value innovation in our assignments (Ungerer, et al., 2016, p.5).
Dealing With Stress
In general, I try not to let my stresses overwhelm or affect my ability to lead. The busyness of our world seems to increase as each year passes. I feel personal pulls to be fully engaged with my family, my friends, my church, and my hobbies. My course work added another level of pull at my time and energy. To negotiate these pulls in my life I needed to prioritize and schedule. I prioritize based on importance to me. First in my life is Family, which goes hand in hand with God. My church calls me to participate, and volunteer. My friends and hobbies are the least of my priorities. To fit the priority of schoolwork in, I needed to take time away from other areas like friends and hobbies. As most of my friends are in similar places in life, there is support from them when I need to skip out on them. The second way I deal with the stresses of life is to schedule these priorities along with the quotidian aspects of life. I use my calendar app to keep track of all major events, due dates, and plans so I will be on time and available when needed. I schedule time for myself and time for God. I schedule time in my calendar to make each of my sons a priority. They get time with their dad individually and together. I schedule time in my calendar to be alone with my wife on a date. These times, as they are at the top of my priority list, are non-negotiable. One of the greatest causes of stress in my life comes when my wife and I are selflessly serving the Lord. The only time we struggle or fight is when we are active in service. Spiritual attack is real and one of the only ways to combat it is to be active in the word of God and pray without ceasing; if either of these were easy things to do, I would be a man without stress.
At work I continue the same strategy of prioritizing and scheduling. I prioritize my students growth and development over the actual learning assignments. Their learning, developing, and growing is far more important than completing an assigned lesson or unit. I prioritize time to work with the administrative team and ensure we have a good working relationship and are on the same page as far as pedagogy and practice. I prioritize time for parents and make myself available at certain times to meet with them formally and informally. I also prioritize my own personal development as a teacher and a leader and schedule time for that. My students would say I don’t prioritize marking enough, as I am often slow to get assignments back to them. I would argue I do provide daily feedback and assessment as the assignments progress and their final mark is far less important than the growth they experience during the learning process.
Hopes for Improvement
I hope to negotiate my time better to provide more time for those lower down on the priority list. My friends often take a backseat to the daily events of life. As life becomes busy I must make sure there are scheduled times for my friends or I will go months or years without seeing them. I hope I can find more time to grow with them. Another desire is for those friends to be more supportive in my spiritual struggles. Many of my friends are former Christians. The busyness of life challenged their priorities and God wasn’t one for them.
As my students see my marking as a low priority for me, I hope to find a way to make it a more effective tool for learning and see it as a higher priority. I place a low priority on summative assessment because I see formative and self-reflective assessment challenges the students to develop their learning as they go. Summative assessment can be personally subjective and in effect provides little guidance for growth. It is my hope that I would see a means to make summative assessment effective for learning or I would assign less work needing summative assessment. Marking takes up a lot of my time and thus creates tangible stress in my life.
Strengths and Weaknesses
I am classified as Extroverted Intuition Thinking Perception (ENTP) in the Meyers-Briggs personality test and many of the explained weaknesses are perfectly in line with my own weaknesses(The Myers & Briggs Foundation, 2018). I am often argumentative, and enjoy debating through ideas from both sides to further my understanding. I can be insensitive, though I feel my relationship with Christ has softened this weakness in me. I work to develop grace for all as Christ has given me abounding grace. That being said, when the stresses of life overwhelm me or I feel like I am not being heard, my instinct is to lash out with frustration at those around me. With all that said, many of the strengths of being an ENTP also apply to me. I am bold, capable of reading other people and seeing their needs, and adept at analyzing outcomes prior to making a choice. My enjoyment of the debate provides opportunity for all to see strengths and weaknesses in the decision prior to us choosing to act.
My biggest weakness is my distain for the nitty-gritty of life. I love working in the big ideas and am capable of making strategic decisions and choices especial in stressful situations. My area of weakness comes in the ensuring of progress and execution of it (Ungerer, et al., 2016, p.27). My strengths of being outspoken, quick witted and charismatic help me to gain and keep the attention and respect of my students and my fellow staff members. My ability to inspire students to provide original ideas and my ability to challenge them through the ideating provides them with a formative-assessment-founded learning environment that is both individually challenging and individually directed.
My personal vision for life is directly related to Paul’s calling for Christians in 1 Corinthians 9:19&22-23.
“19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”
It is my goal to meet people where they are at, hear their perspective and relate to them in a way they can understand so they see Christ. I try to be a leader to my family as Christ is a leader to me. I lead them where they are at in ways they will understand. To do this I must know them and know how they learn, listen and follow. This is true in family as it is in my friendships and all areas of my life. To be an effective leader, I must know those I lead and understand how to lead them.
My pedagogy is founded on my vision statement: To raise up students who know God, and grow in him, shining their light into the world as mature and responsible citizens. I teach at a Christian school made up of predominantly non-Christian children and families. My goal is to share the gospel with them in everything I do, that they may follow Christ and be saved. From there my goal is to help the students develop themselves that they might become positive members of our society who can go into society and lead others.
Collectively my vision is to seek and save the lost. From there it is to make disciples and grow them in their relationship with Christ. I believe this is the calling of all Christians and it must start with our own recognition of our brokenness and an understanding that Christ is leading through us. We do not save He saves through us. We are broken vessels or jars of clay as Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 4:7. It is not through our power, but through the surpassing power of God at work in us, that we are saved. To save the lost and make disciples we must start with an attitude of humility and grace, putting God before our own power, with that we can speak to all people in a way they will hear.
Hughes, Beatty, and Dinwoodie recognize areas of investment have significant impact on the performance ability (2014, p.26). The areas I feel I invested in most are communication and understanding of needs, vision building and guiding. To further develop these skills I must eliminate other areas that might be beneficial. I must avoid “kitchen sink” strategies and be focused on my vision for the students (Hughes et al, 2014, p.27). An area of abandonment might be: creating summative assessment tools. While these tools are great for classifying students work they do not further my mission to raise them up in Christ.
Areas to Excel
It is important I further develop my communication skills. I must also further develop my ability to strategically select and prioritize opportunities for growth in others and myself. It is my hope one of the drivers I can most excel at is time management and ability to fit each area of my life into my schedule without further growing my stress factors.
I wish to develop a Christ-centric culture in both my personal and professional life. I hope this culture is founded in an attitude of humbleness with a desire for discipleship and growth. This culture should be inclusive as seen in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. This culture is constantly and continuously moulded, growing and shaping to meet the needs of its citizens (Ungerer, et al., 2016, p.19).
In the past I often thought leadership could be commanded or coerced and as a result my teaching practices, especially in areas of discipline reflected that. Over many years of teaching I discovered true leadership is best practiced with the benefit of the follower at the heart of decision-making and demands an understanding of the follower by the leader. The leader must lift the follower up, challenging them in ways to further their growth, rather than through assertive dominance. Vision building is most effectively done by: gaining follower buy-in through their participation in the process.
There are many areas I need to work on to further develop my strategic leadership skills. Most essentially, I must work on time management and my weakness towards dealing with the day-to-day trivial tasks make up the progress and development of the goals (Ungerer, et al., 2016, p.27).
My areas of present strategic strength are in vision building, cultural understanding and communication, and servant leadership. To further develop them I must be cognitively aware of my followers needs when making decisions, but must also further seek to include them in the process of decision making. For the application of this to my students, I would provide them with more self-direct learning opportunities guided by me rather than assigned by me. In my personal life this might come through including other groups I have prioritized less into groups that are high on my priority list. I could bring my friendship circle into my family life through bonding events with fellow dads, or double date times with my wife and my friends. In conclusion, the development of strategic leadership in my life is an ongoing process, a journey not done individually but done through communal growth and change (Ungerer, et al., 2016, p.20).
Hughes, R. L., Beatty, Collarelli-Beatty, K., & Dinwoodie, D. L. (2014).Becoming a strategic leader: Your role in your organization’s enduring success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
The Myers & Briggs Foundation, (2018). The 16 MBTI® Types.Retrieved from https://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/the-16-mbti-types.htm?bhcp=1
Ungerer, M., Ungerer, G., & Herholdt, J. (2016). Navigating strategic possibilities: Strategy formulation and execution practices to flourish. Randburg: KR Publishing Publications