When you want to change a behavior or achieve something, one of the best ways to ensure success is to turn it into a habit. Whether it’s daily exercise, going to bed earlier, or making sure you have a monthly date with your significant other, when a positive action becomes a habit, success is the result. Leadership can become a habit if you tune into the behaviors which are a part of it. To give you momentum – and early success – start by choosing the ones most comfortable to you.
To get you started, Lolly Daskal presents twelve “C’s” in a post, saying It’s Never Too Late to Learn These 12 Powerful Leadership Habits:
- Care – As the saying goes, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Good leadership is built on relationships. It’s through caring about others you grow as a leader. I used to tell my staff (unbelievably in today’s world I had a co-librarian, a secretary and two clerks in a 12,000-student high school), “Don’t leave your problems at home. Let us know and help you.” This way, I never expected too much from someone who was struggling.
- Conviction – Your philosophy about what school librarianship must be, along with your Mission Statement, form your convictions. When they are strong, they are part of who you are. The passion is communicated to others who are then more inclined to follow where you lead.
- Clarity – You need to be able to succinctly set a direction. Too much verbiage or including too many alternatives clouds the issue. Where do you want to go? A leader knows and can express it easily and whenever asked.
- Confidence – This goes hand in hand with clarity. People don’t feel confident following leaders who continually waver and change direction. This doesn’t mean you have to know everything or have all the answers all the time. You do need to have confidence in your skills, your mission and your ability to get things done eventually if not always immediately.
- Courage – For me, this is all about being confident enough to take risks. You need to be willing to leave your comfort zone. You will not do this every day, but you have to be ready to take the chance when the idea or opportunity surfaces. It goes well with confidence and clarity. It also includes taking responsibility for any mistakes. This can be a huge challenge and feel risky and uncomfortable, but when people see you doing it, it goes a long way toward them trusting you in the future.
- Commitment – Your stakeholders need to know you will follow through on what you propose. In a district (not the one with a staff of 5) that voted down 20 budgets in 22 years, I regularly got funds for projects because the superintendent knew I would produce results. The more you can show this, the more often you will get the “yes” you are looking for.
- Celebration – Recognize and celebrate the achievement of others. No project gets done alone. Praise and gratitude go to those who participate. Everyone likes to be recognized. It’s the first step to them saying yes again.
- Collaboration – I know you are trying hard to do this and there are times when it feels as though the door is continually slammed in your face. Remember, collaboration is also about being open and willing to get ideas from others. Teachers, students, administrators, IT people, and others bring a different perspective. Keep an open mind and listen attentively. (And then celebrate the collaboration after!)
- Communication – Getting the word out to the right people at the right time with the right message and using the right platform is a critical leadership skill in today’s world. Who needs to know? How can you best reach them?
- Candor – Tell the truth. Never blindside an administrator. Be willing to admit you are seeking help and advice. You can still be confident when doing so. Hiding full truths (expense, the time necessary, etc.) will not endear you to other people in leadership roles.
- Courtesy – This is closely related to care. We are in a relationship occupation. Whether it’s a custodian or an administrator, show you value them as people. You should treat your students with respect as well. It’s amazing how memorable courtesy is.
- Credibility – Your track record builds credibility. People believe you will get something done based on what you have accomplished before. Success breeds success. This doesn’t mean you can’t fail. Keep going so any failures are outweighed by all your successes.
That’s Lolly Daskal’s list. I have one more “C” to add:
- Confidentiality – You don’t repeat gossip. What a teacher or administrator says to you does not get circulated. You are trustworthy. Remember at the beginning I mentioned encouraging staff and volunteers not to leave problems at home. Keeping what they say confidential is critical.
To add to your success and see your progress, I also recommend creating a leadership notebook where you record when you have exhibited the leadership behaviors/qualities you are focusing on. There’s nothing like filling up those pages to see how far your habit has come.
Which habits from this list struck a chord with you? Choose two or three habits that you’d like to start. See how often you can practice them. Over time you will find that leadership is really habit-forming.