Yes, you are a leader – and you will be an even more effective and happy one if you open up to and are aware of all the other things which make you who and how are. While being a leader is part you are this is not, nor should it be a complete description of you.
I have been known to say I am a leader everywhere in my life and that is mostly true. But if I hold on to that statement, I can fail to see a larger picture of me. One that is also important. In a recent article Ed Batista, an executive coach, speaks to CEO’s who are “profoundly lonely” despite interacting with many people during the day. School librarians often feel the same. Yes, they speak with teachers and students all the time. But even when we use social media for professional connections, there is a disconnect.
Batista’s first piece of advice is to Get out of the Role and cultivate different interests, and when you can with like-minded people. He mentions rock climbing and ballroom dancing. Definitely not leadership “tasks.”
For example, I am a walker. I certainly am not leading when I am walking. Yet walking is important to me as a person. It gets me out of my head. It invigorates me. I meet people. Sometimes I see them repeatedly. Most often they are brief encounters with merely a head nod in acknowledgment. But each one fills me in a certain way. Walking restores me. I miss it when weather or life interferes with me getting out three to five times a week.
I am also a reader, of course. Reading is like breathing to me. If I don’t have at least five titles waiting to be read, I get nervous. Like walking, it takes me out of where I am now and lets me fly free. I have friends who are quilters and those who are knitters. One is an avid practitioner of yoga. Some are vegans. Notice the word is “are” not “do.” These are all part of our lives outside of being leaders and they are just as important as leading. Indeed, by enriching our lives they make us better leaders.
Next, he says, Treat Family Like Family. It’s advice I whole-heartedly embrace. I can remember when I had a challenging principal and brought home my frustration and anger on a daily basis. Not only was my home no longer a way to refresh myself, I was also having a negative effect on my relationship with my husband.
Yes, you can bring work home (sometimes physically), but set a time limit on it. We need our family and they need us. Be open to hearing what is going on in the lives of the people you love. And use the same active listening techniques you practice on the job.
Treat Friends Like Treasures. The friendships we build outside of work are special. Give them the time
they deserve. It took me a while to learn the value of having lunch with a friend despite a hectic schedule. Even if I took two hours for lunch (after retirement), the tasks and responsibilities were waiting for me and still got done. The bonus was that I handled them in a more positive way because I was feeling good and more energized.
Beware the Wolves. Batista is referring to people who profess connection in the corporate world but who have other often opposing agendas. For those of us in education, it’s the complainers, those who always have a grievance against the administration or other teachers. Even when they are right, they are wrong for you. You don’t want them to bring you down. It’s not about being a Pollyanna and only seeing good; it’s about accepting what you can’t change (or find another job) and working towards what you can change.
Finally, he says, Start Now, which is the reason for my writing this blog for you today. It’s hard to implement new behavior patterns during the frenetic pace of the school year. With your schedule (hopefully) a little more flexible, do what you can to notice these things in your life and enhance the ones that will most fill you up. Then when the next semester starts, be sure to schedule the time you need for you, family, and friendship and continue to steer clear of the wolves.
Take stock of who you are and who you want to be – besides a leader. And cultivate your new behaviors now.