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What It Takes to Be a Leader

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.
John Dewey (1859 - 1952), American psychologist

In an article on the Advantage Performance website, Katrin Schwabe writes about how tough it is for most people to lead others. She explains: "For some of us, leading comes naturally. For most, however, it’s hard – even under the best of conditions. And it takes us by surprise when it really shouldn’t. This is because leading people is not easy. It is complex. It can be frustrating. It is time-consuming. It’s about emotions and expectations.

Leading people is about mobilizing and optimizing the talent and skills of yourself and others in order to achieve results. And it is about the willingness to hold up the mirror and be very self-aware about your strengths and limitations – and maintaining the capacity to grow and develop."

She counsels anyone considering stepping into a leadership position (or even those who are already leaders) to ask themselves the following questions:

And in the book, Leading Early Childhood OrganizationsMargie Carter outlines some of the behaviors she believes are most important for effective leaders to practice. Here’s the first one she mentions: "Offer genuine respect and trust." She explains: "Teachers say they usually feel respected when someone really listens to them, trying to understand and be responsive…Some talk about 'being trusted to succeed, even if they falter.'"

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