Our first kernel of wisdom comes from Dr. Diane Ketelle, Professor of Education at Mills College in Oakland, CA.
Before entering the world of education, Diane was a professional dancer, clown, mime artist and high-wire walker in the circus. She feels it influenced how she approached being a public school teacher, principal and later a public school superintendent. It gave her access to different, helpful, open-ended alternative approaches to problems which arose.
Diane says she learned about ‘every-day leadership’. The people she met may not have had the same kind of formal education as sometimes we think leaders ought to have but they were able to influence everyone around them in very positive ways, every day.
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Diane thinks listening is probably the most under-valued leadership quality. Leaders should talk less and listen more. It’s all about listening, not just hearing what people say. We need to find the meaning behind what people are trying to tell you. Leaders need to be able to understand all the different perspectives that surround them.
We have thought that masterful leaders find solutions to problems for a long time – if you are a really good leader then you should have the solutions. In fact, Diane believes that the world is too complex for any one leader to have solutions to every problem. Rather, we need to develop a habit of mind to ask questions about what’s going on. With the complexity of modern schooling, it’s better to be able to find the right questions rather than just jumping to solutions.
Leaders should develop the habit of reflecting through surfacing questions.
Although it’s difficult to talk about how to develop personal strength or courage, Diane feels her courage comes from her values and privilege. Leaders have to create environments which allow people to practise being courageous. It’s essential to develop and respect courage within the organisation in order to enact any kind of positive change.
Brandon also points out this can apply to teachers and their students as well.
Please add your comments or questions and we will be sure to mention you in an upcoming episode!