Thursday, March 24, 2011

“Nothing could have prepared me for this”


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Going on six years ago, my wife and I (along with our two dogs, two cats, and new SUV) evacuated the New Orleans area for what we thought would be another brief period while Hurricane Katrina approached the Gulf Coast.  Seven weeks later, we returned to our home that was, for the most part, unharmed. 

Oh, I almost forgot.  We returned with two dogs, two cats, a mostly new SUV and…our five day old daughter, my mother in-law, father in-law, and brother in-law.

Truly, nothing could have prepared me for that experience.

There are other events that those involved could not have possibly prepared fully to experience.  For example, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the attacks on 9/11, the BP oil spill, etc.

What I find interesting is that I also hear educational leaders (principals, heads of school, superintendents, etc.) whoa also claim that nothing could have prepared them for their leadership roles.

Really?  Nothing?

Was there no lessons from teaching that were applicable? 

Nothing learned in graduate school? 



Nothing at all?

Maybe these statements are simply overstatements, but if they are sincere then what does that say about our expectations of the teachers we lead?

A basic definition of leadership is “Follow Me!”  If you claim nothing could prepare you for your role, then how can we expect those we lead to but into their own professional development plan or even give much credit to our ideas for their professional growth?

If someone asks you to talk about your leadership experiences, think before making a statement like, “Nothing could have prepared me for this” and maybe think about all the people and events that helped you get to where you are today.

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