I’m a big fan of operating on a flat playing field, both professionally and personally. When I’m working with those I have a relationships with, or if I’m working on cultivating one with somebody new, I want there to be a level of camaraderie, of collegiality, and of peer-level support.
In my current organization, I tend to call everyone by their first name, regardless of title, and I tend to want everyone’s opinion around ideas, regardless of what their role in the organization is.
I also firmly believe in the fact that we should never ask others to complete tasks that we would not do ourselves. I believe it is just as much my role to change the toner in the copy machine, keep our workspace clean, and handle paperwork, as it is to design professional learning, meet with district representatives, and write state regulation summaries.
There is a value to recognizing that a role is not a definition. Rather, I like to participate in whatever the time and circumstance requires. Every opportunity is an opportunity to learn, regardless of whether I’m reading new policy from our state education department or putting together desk clocks that we will be distributing to district representatives as a gift.
Leadership requires a person to be comfortable not fitting into a box. Certainly there are times where we are engaged in activities and explorations that entirely match our job descriptions. But, just as often, we are truly learning as we lead, and getting our hands dirty through situations we never thought we would have to engage in. This is all good, and a natural recipe for what it means to lead with authenticity and to lead as a real person.
I welcome opportunities to do different things. And I welcome opportunities to explore the different roles that exist in our agency. If I am to be as trusted and as respected as possible, then I need to make sure that I am seeing as much of the agency as possible, and that I can truly understand the lenses that my colleagues lead and learn through.