One of the early lessons regarding leadership that I learned was the importance of speaking my mind.
After three years of learning from an engaging and reflective leader, my school brought on a new building leader, one whose leadership style did not fit my own learning style, and whose lack of comfort with the role forced this person to be constantly on the defensive.
The behavior of this leader taught me that if I didn’t advocate for my needs and the needs of my department, then it was likely that they would be forgotten. This meant that I spent a fair amount of time trying to showcase the value of my ideas, and just as often being discouraged when despite what I believed was a good pitch, little changed in approach, and my building leader’s process was not changed.
I learned that it was far better to get ideas out in the open and make my thinking clear to others (even if it was ignored or discounted) than to say nothing and have unnecessary regrets afterwards.
So, I tend to be a constant “push-backer,” sometimes, to a fault. So, I have much learning to do in terms of when I should be pushing back, and when I need to wait longer and strategize for the right moment.
In a conversation with my supervisor about this on Friday, we discussed the importance of “circling back.” The idea being that sharing my thoughts and advocating for what we believe is right is more about a process, and less about a specific time.
I’ve learned how to read situations to determine whether to keep pushing opposing ideas or let them go. I tend to consider the people in the room, the flow of conversation, and what the general “personality” dynamics are of all those involved. Practice, leading from a challenging building leader, has helped me with that.
Where I still need to grow is in understanding the value of circling back. As my supervisor shared in our conversation, there is a time and place for everything, and part of leading at our best is making sure that we strategize not just about how we bring up opposing ideas, but when. She is a master at this, and in the few years I’ve worked closely with her, I’ve learned a lot. That said, I still feel myself getting frustrated when I don’t bring up an idea I know is important. But, as she has told me, sometimes when we force ourselves to wait on sharing an idea, we end up allowing that idea to have more weight and influence more people. And as leaders, one of our goals always needs to be to help the largest number of people, in the most effective way.