Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'
Many of Dr. King's quotes resonate with me. I often use them in speeches, presentations, and meetings. This particular quote defines a large aspect of what we should be doing as educational leaders.
Many leadership articles will encourage you to find a mentor. I would not be where I am today if it wasn't for my friend and mentor. I am encouraging you in this post is to become a mentor.
One of my guiding leadership principles is the belief in leading, mentoring and developing aspiring leaders. As a building principal, I always recruited and worked with people that were aspiring leaders. Not all of these people wanted to run their own schools. Many became teacher leaders or went into curriculum development, technology integration, etc. This belief in mentoring allowed me to build capacity in the organization, distribute leadership, and develop talented leaders.
It doesn't matter how much experience you have in the field. Someone out there has less! You will never know everything there is to know about leadership but you do have a lot to share with aspiring leaders. We have all made great decisions and terrible mistakes that people can learn from. Why not share that knowledge while providing a valuable service to the individual and the organization?
Here are some mentoring keys that I have used with aspiring leaders:
- Set aside time to talk to your mentee. I often did this in 20-30 minute blocks.
- Provide your mentee with a leadership project. I often would tie a school need to something the individual was passionate about.
- Talk out loud about decisions, events, meetings, etc. This provides a good sounding board for you but also allows the individual to hear your thinking.
- Transparency is key. Aspiring leaders need to see all sides of the profession. They need to know that:
- Not every decision is a good one.
- Not every project ends in success.
- Not every parent is in love with your program
I believe that everything comes down to leadership. Everything great is about leadership and everything bad is about leadership. It is our responsibility to mentor the aspiring leaders that will lead future schools and future students. This is just one response to Dr. King's question "What are you doing for others?"