Seton Hall University
My exploration of the self, my past, and my influences has given me the
opportunity to string together all of these items so that I am able to gain a greater
sense of self. All of these variables, when linked together, create an
understanding of who I am and how that affects the style in which I lead.
Through the Keirsey Temperament Sorter and the self perception profile
exercises, I was able to clearly see – in a scientific manner – who I am how I am
perceived. The results were not surprising; I have made a conscience effort to
sustain and exhibit my core values and beliefs, no matter the audience or
circumstance. But these tests did allow me an opportunity to examine how “me”
affects my leadership.
Who Are My Leaders?
When I think of leadership, I tend to look to those men and women who
have done so quietly and with little fanfare or open admission or ambition to even
be a leader. They have always appeared to have a definitive centered-ness.
While they have enthusiastically and passionately taken on the roles of leaders,
they also exhibited a calm - almost stoic - attitude toward obstacles. In short, the
leaders I tend to look to and seek to learn from are those who have achieved
greatness without consciously seeking to be great. These leaders are what
Covey calls principle-centered; unwavering, uncompromising, and unforgiving in
their core values, morals, and ethics.
The Principled Principal
Applying Covey’s theory of principle-centered leadership seems natural to
me. As a devout Catholic I have made it a point to approach my career as a
mission. Most people would argue that one’s religious conviction has no value or
purpose in the workplace (unless you worked for a religious institution). But I
believe that through education I aim to reach those who are in most need, feel
rejected by the system, turned off to learning, or in danger of abandoning the
pursuit of knowledge and education altogether – this includes teachers, students,
staff, and parents. Thus I have keen sense of purpose in my work. I see
leadership as a service to society, not as a means to merely earn a salary,
acquire wealth, or prosper politically.
The Power of Humility
In order to keep myself square on this conviction, I exhibit a great deal of
humility in my leadership. It is not uncommon for me to heap accolades on the
faculty, the support staff, and my colleagues. Nor is it uncommon for me to share
with my staff my faults, weaknesses, or shortcomings. It is absolutely necessary
for me to have my staff view me as human – full of promise and frailty – just like
them. Together, we are then able to see eye to eye, accept each other’s “trip
ups” and move toward growth and improvement.
Because I am aware of my own limitations and weaknesses, I attempt not
to lead where I cannot go. Like the leaders I look to in admiration, they knew the
stages they could perform well on and do not pretend to be able to perform well
in all venues. I never pretend to be the expert and I explicitly express my desire
to see others who are experts teach me. I have a common quip that tends to
come out of my mouth pretty often, “I’ll never pretend to be the smartest guy in
the room.” That type of humility goes a long way with my staff. They appreciate
my willingness to admit that my title is not an “entitlement” to autocracy.
As I mature in my leadership, I am finding it more and more important to
reflect on my decisions, my direction, and my patterns of behavior. I maintain
two blogs – one with the parents of my school and another with my professional
network. Blogging helps me sort out the details and projections regarding
decisions and thoughts about curriculum, edu-politics, and community growth.
The responses I receive from my posts are often very insightful and generate
more thought and self-reflection. Blogging is a practice I try to keep up with, but
find difficult with the demanding nature of my job. I don’t blog for ego – I blog
because education leaders need to remain at the forefront of technology and
they need to spread their thoughts, ideas, and decisions in such a way as to
reach as many minds as possible. Blogging has also allowed me to show
parents that I am not an isolated being who avoids communication or criticism.
Being a school leader is tough – but it does not need to be stressful. With
greater self awareness, a sense of self limitation, and the knowledge that
leadership is a constant metamorphosis can be liberating. This liberation will
then allow a leader to grow in areas of need and refrain from trying to be what
you cannot. Just like an actor, musician, or comedian, you must know your
material, yourself, and your audience before you choose the stage on which to