As the saying goes, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”
For most people, subscribing to this motto is easier said than done—especially in an increasingly competitive world that values instant gratification and immediate achievement.
The education world is as guilty as any other of ignoring the journey. Students are victims of sometimes crippling expectations. And, school leaders face similar pressures.
According to most estimates, the average superintendent tenure is around three years. That’s not a lot of time to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and evolve. School leaders are expected to make their mark quickly or leave.
All school leaders have skills and talents they might not be aware of, writes veteran school principal and education leadership guru Eric Sheninger, in a recent blog post. Denying them the time and opportunity to discover these talents can have a damaging effect on their development as administrators and their schools’ achievements.
So, what can you do with the time you have?
In his post, Sheninger identified a few ways he discovered his own inner potential as a school leader. As you evolve as a leader, use these tips to find and unlock the inner skills you didn’t know you had.
1. Expand your professional network
Your leadership journey is your own, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let others help you along the way. Continuously expand your professional network of school leaders, education policy experts, and educators. Use their collective knowledge to help you evolve your leadership style.
“As I developed and grew my Personal Learning Network (PLN), I learned how much I did not know,” writes Sheninger. “The resources, ideas, strategies, different points of view, support, and feedback that I received from people across the globe, many of which have now become good friends, pushed me to pursue transformative change.”
2. Share your own work and the challenges you face
You can learn a lot by sharing your own story and asking for advice. That may mean tweeting out a question, bragging a little bit on your daily blog, or explaining your approach to a problem during an in-person presentation.
Sheninger writes that developing a daily blog when he was a principal eventually helped him overcome his fears of writing and public speaking.
It also helped him identify the key messages he needed to effectively communicate to his school community and stakeholders.
3. Stay outside your comfort zone
“Doubt, leading to a lack of confidence, often clouds our true abilities,” writes Sheninger. “Our minds are quick to revert back to safety mode when we are faced with a challenge or engaging in an innovative activity.”
It’s easy to stick with what you’re good at, especially when the pressure is mounting. But the most effective leaders learn by trying new ideas. Although moving outside your comfort zone may lead to short-term failures, it will also prepare you for future challenges and strengthen your leadership skills.
How do you balance achieving your immediate goals with evolving as a leader? Tell us in the comments.
Did you hear? Eric Sheninger was recently named one of our TrustED 20! Read our full list of education thought leaders you need to follow.