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MASA Leader - Fall 2016

From the MASA Executive Director www.gomasa.org 7 As I prepared to write this column about Leadership, I looked up the simple definition of the word and was actually disappointed in what I found. Definition of leadership: • A position as a leader of a group, organization, etc.; • The time when a person holds the position of leader; • The power or ability to lead other people. Maybe it is just me, but in my experience of three decades as a leader in public education, it has always seemed much more complicated to me! I then considered peppering all of you with wise quotes from famous leaders about leadership, as there are certainly many of those that are available. However, anyone could do that, and that did not seem genuine. So, I finally decided that in the limited space that I have, I would cover three areas that have floated up to the top for me throughout my career and especially while I have been at MASA over the past 20 months. 1) Relationships. In reflecting on my career, every position I have been in has required me to build genuine and trusting relationships with a variety of people. As you have probably experienced, I have had those situations where I had to have a working relationship with someone I did not necessarily trust or like. I have not always handled those the best, but in my older age I have come to understand how important it is not to close the door on those with whom I might consistently disagree, and to try to develop some level of positive relationship with everyone. 2) Know your stuff. It is one thing to have good relationships, but another to really (really) know what one is talking about. There are no shortcuts to reaching this level, and it is a never-ending challenge. However, quality leadership requires expertise and, as we know, that is always a work in progress as we move through our ever-changing profession. 3) Be true to yourself. Fortunately, there were only a few times in my career that I absolutely had to make a decision that went against my belief system. In those situations, the decisions were not illegal or immoral, but the position I held required me to go against a belief that I held close. On those rare occasions, I really had to reflect on what I was doing (and why) and then move on as soon as possible after that decision. Of course, there are many, many other characteristics of effective and successful leaders, but at the time of this writing and based on what is going on in my career right now, these were the three areas that seemed to be the most relevant. What are your three? Defining Leadership By Chris Wigent, MASA Executive Director


MASA Leader - Fall 2016
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