As Health and Physical Education professionals, each and every one of us hold a very important leadership role for our students. If you are really lucky, this leadership role may also transfer to your staff and your school community (if you read that with a tone of sarcasm then I know what you are thinking!). Regardless of your position, years of experience or teaching assignment, each and everyone of us has students looking towards you to give them the tools they need to be healthy and active individuals.
Recently I have had the most influential life event that anyone can have, I became a parent. This experience has really put things into perspective as a parent and as a professional. Randomly during a midnight feeding I came across the realization that “hey, being an effective parent is a lot like being an effective leader!” and at the time I thought it was just sleep deprivation kicking in. As the weeks passed, I began to see more connections and thought that maybe I was on to something…
ITS A TEAM EFFORT
“Many hands make light work” or “if you want to travel far, travel with others” always comes to mind when thinking about leadership. As a leader you are the navigator and your group trusts you to guide them to their destination. As a parent I want my daughter to be live up to her potential and never settle for anything less than excellent and my parental team knows this vision and agrees with it.
Sometimes decisions have to be made but accomplished as a team, but this team effort revolves around trust. Your team (it could be your PE team, students, leadership team) needs to trust that you will make the best decisions to help move everyone towards their goal and you need to trust that everyone will do everything in their ability to make it happen. To some this is a scary concept, to let go of control and trust in your teammates, but it will benefit you in the long run.
UTILIZE YOUR STRENGTHS TO COMPENSATE FOR YOUR WEAKNESSES
I’m going to be honest, baby poop makes me gag!! I have had a few close calls with Baby Ferg reacting with a giggle (this is probably just a reaction at this point but at times I think she really is laughing AT me), but I sure can get her to sleep fast by rocking and dancing her around the house. Knowing this, my wife and I split up some of the duties that clearly the other one is better at. This definitely makes the whole parenting process smoother and enjoyable!
As a leader, we need to create roles for those on our team that will utilize the strengths that individuals have while developing their weaknesses. Not only will they feel valued but the confidence to taking on a new challenge will be developed as they experience continued success. One day I will be able to change a poopy diaper without gagging!!
As a parent, I want my child to look back at her memories and realize “man, my goofball dad was always there!”. Being a constant figure or support and mentorship is my ultimate goal as a parent and a leader.
It is more than easy enough to get caught up in your office doing paper work, planning, and a million other things, but people need to see you out there. “Randomly” bumping into people in the hallways, or any other environment where they do not expect you to be at, is a great way to develop an effective working and learning relationship. It is also a great way to develop that other important element: trust. Let them know who you are and let them see you out there!! Just walking into a classroom to observe best practices or to see what the students are learning about is a great way to develop that strong, enduring relationship.
DO THE DIRTY WORK
Ryan Reynolds has been putting out some great “father of the year” worthy advice (you should just google “Ryan Reynolds father advice” and get ready to laugh), but one piece that sticks with me the most is do the dirty work. Change a diaper or two (even if you almost throw up), wake up in the middle of the night and help out, get in there and do those fatherly things that might not seem glamorous. Same concept applies to being an effective leader.
Leaders shouldn’t be afraid to jump in the front line, roll up their sleeves and do the dirty work. It’s another great way to continue to develop that relationship and trust with your team but it is also a great way to keep up with what is going on. Ideas and methods change over time and sometimes leaders get disconnected and lose their up-to-date edge.
LOVE EVERY SECOND OF IT
Parenting isn’t easy. It’s hard work and is 24/7. I can see how that would get to a person and bring down their mood, but you are doing it for an excellent reason. No matter how tired or frustrated I am, I always put my best foot forward and continue in that direction. My wife thinks I am crazy for being so energetic in the mornings after three midnight feedings, I just don’t want to be that grumpy guy no people avoid throughout the day.
No matter what, leaders need to be positive and show that they love what they are doing. Your display of passion, or lack of display, will have a direct influence on those who are following your lead. Many PE teachers are seeking help getting students engaged and excited about the material, first step is that you need to be engaged and excited and genuinely display it. DON’T BE A FAKE, student’s and staff can see through that easily.
At this time, that is all I have! Im pretty sure that inspiration will come again when I am changing a diaper or up for the 17th time in the middle of the night! Stay tuned!