You can lead by empowering others

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is ​a retired educator in Ottawa area. He has a keen interest in promoting technology as a progressive learning tool among the students in his school. ​Paul is active on Twitter (@mcguirp) and blogs on all sorts of topics, including climbing (climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in April​), mental health, politics, a wide variety of education topics and anything else that comes to mind. His blog is called 'Whole Hearted', taken from the author and researcher Brené Brown, whom he admires greatly.​ Paul loves writing for Innovate My School and connecting to other writers and educators whenever possible.

Follow @mcguirp

Website: www.paulmcguire1.wordpress.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Image credit: Flickr // Olaf Gradin. Image credit: Flickr // Olaf Gradin.

What do you want to achieve as a school leader? What traits will you focus on?” For me, when considering the traits that foster good leadership, you need to start by really considering the people you work with. I saw this quote on Dr. Marcia Tate’s Twitter feed yesterday, and I think it says it all. Good leadership needs to have an outward focus where we as school leaders are always looking to empower and encourage others.


You can look at this several ways. First, empowering others will get you great results. As the quote points out, those who feel appreciated are going to do a better job. They are going to work knowing that someone has their back and what they do matters.


On a more fundamental level, empowering others deepens their own experience and helps to make what they do more meaningful. Leaders really only have the power that others give them and by encouraging and really trusting those you work with you are creating an atmosphere where everyone believes in the work that is going on in the community.


I think it is important to point out that this is not an easy thing to do, and it can take some time. Creating a culture of empowerment means that the leader has to give up a good deal of control and let people try things out. This can be risky, “The more that leaders try to control, less actually gets done.”and some leaders may not feel comfortable giving away their control. After all, isn’t this why they were chosen to be a leader in the first place? To lead from the front and make sure everything aligns with what the school group / local authority / district sees as important?


This is certainly as aspect of leadership, but there is so much more that can be accomplished if we open up to see the potential that comes from empowering others.


The opposite of empowering leadership is micromanagement. We have all worked for people like this. The paradox is interesting. The more that leaders try to control who they work with, less actually gets done. People with overbearing leaders simply try to survive in their own little corner, dreaming of the day when this phase passes.


Here is my simple challenge for the school leader: Look for ways each day to empower the ones you work with. Try to create an atmosphere where people really believe that they are working on a collective endeavour.


This may take some time, and you will have to be creative in how you approach this challenge, but why not do this? Creating a culture of empowerment can eventually spread to the students and families in your school community.


What would happen at a school if every parent, student and teacher really felt like they had a voice and they were all a part of a great collective endeavour?


So, where do we go from here? What are some practical ways you as a school leader begin to empower others?


I thought about this for awhile, and I think the first thing you should do is work on becoming more mindful. Try listening to Pema Chodron. You can find lots of her books on Audible. She has a great deal to say about developing loving kindness - an essential characteristic to nurture if you are really going to empower others. As you become more mindful it will become easier to think of others first.


From here, look for ways to share decision-making power in your school. At my last school, we put out the agenda on Google Docs a week ahead of time. I would put in a few items, but the idea was that any staff member could add agenda items to the Doc “Kindness is an essential characteristic for empowering others.”and together, we would have a staff meeting where everyone’s concerns could be addressed. This took awhile to take off, but eventually we had some really rich discussions at our staff meetings.


We also co-wrote our parent blog. I would always start things off, then most of the teachers would add in what they were planning to do for the upcoming week. This made the blog a really valuable resource for parents and a great way for teachers to feature what they were doing each week in the classroom.


Here is an excerpt from the kindergarten section:


Kindergarten Blog for December 19-23, 2016
Our last blog post of 2016! It is hard to believe that we have been in school for 4 months already!
We hope to enjoy our last week together by creating wonderful Christmas crafts, attending a school-wide assembly on Wednesday and our Fourth Advent Liturgy on Thursday. We are singing ‘Take a Walk to Christmas’ in our classrooms and hope to sing for other classes too! Our walk to the mailbox to mail our Santa letters was a huge success. Santa even made a surprise visit the next day to let us know he got all of our letters! What a great surprise! We also took advantage of the great snow and the K1 group went snowshoeing!


Featuring teacher’s work is a great way to empower them and give them a voice.


These are three practical things you can do to empower others. There are many other ways to do this - just think of your staff first, and the ideas will come.


Want to receive cutting-edge insights from leading educators each week? Sign up to our Community Update and be part of the action!

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now
Login

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"