I read an excerpt of a resignation letter from a local coach earlier this week. That letter referenced a decision that required the coach to set ego aside. I began thinking about this statement “set ego aside” and what it meant for leadership in education.
Setting ego aside is not an easy task, and often requires us as leaders to follow in the footsteps of our predecessors. Why is it hard to follow in those footsteps you ask? Leaders have an intense desire, all of us, to leave our mark on education. Our experiences, content knowledge, and desire to serve others, along with our internal drive, push us to lead.
It is often thought, and mistakenly applied, that the ONLY way to leave our mark on a district or building is to do something NEW. But contrary to that instinctual desire, a true leader has the courage to come in to a district, building, or classroom and continue to do the things that were already in place and WORKING! Even though the systems and structures may not be “your idea”, laser like focus on what works is the key to successful leadership.
Set ego aside means the work is not about BEING right. It is is about DOING what is right. Doing with is right is always harder. But leaders are designed and trained to do what is right whether it is popular or not. Doing what is right is for all those around us, but never for us alone.
Setting aside your ego in leadership also means that you have the courage and the patience to listen to and learn from those entrenched in the system. Listening and understanding the emotions tied to each message takes time. As we know, we often sacrifice time when we listen to our egos. If you equip yourself with the skills to listen to others, and then balance it with the knowledge to adjust and refine as necessary, you will leave a mark worth appreciating.
Are you focused on the right work, for the right reasons? Are you strong enough as a leader to sustain the work of someone else, building upon the successes already in hand? Are you leading to sustain and improve outcomes or are you leading to make a name for yourself? Consider your motives when deciding what your leadership focus will entail.
Be prepared to “Lego your Ego”.
Danielle Prohaska, Superintendent
Mechanicsburg Exempted Village Schools