I have to admit it is difficult for me to work for a leader who has ambition for self. These leaders, while saying they want success for others, really want success for themselves. These leaders “tell” instead of listen. These leaders push through initiatives because they think they have all the answers. They strive for their own glory and advancement.
Doris Kearns Goodwin (ASCD Empower 19 Conference) said, “Strong leaders turn ambition for self into ambition for a greater good.” These leaders mold public sentiment through their character and morals.
Strong leaders uplift the work of others and create an atmosphere of service and well-being. They can move mountains because they do not work for themselves, but they work for others. These leaders care about the workers in the field. They don’t hesitate to “wash the feet” of others carrying out a mission for a greater good. These leaders have a passion, a passion that is not focused on their own glory – but is focused on others.
It is critical that we have leaders who work for a greater good in schools. We must have leaders who work for the greater good of children. Children are first of all not the reading curriculum – not an advancement tool– not tests, but the needs of children are put foremost in all decisions. These leaders uplift children AND teachers. They recognize the complexity of a teacher’s work, care about the emotional and physical health of those working in the field; they believe in their teachers and listen to their thoughts; they include teachers in decisions, and value their opinions concerning children in their classrooms. These leaders realize the teacher is in the classroom with children for the majority of the day and realize the importance of the work taking place there.
Strong leaders allow teachers ownership of their students and encourage their thoughts on how to increase achievement for students in the classroom. The classroom teacher is paramount because it is the classroom teacher that “washes the feet” of children. It is the classroom teacher who spends the most time with the children – the one who ultimately accepts responsibility for the growth and development of the children in the classroom. We should not underestimate the impact of the classroom teacher, positive or negative. I don’t care if you have the best interventionists, the best ELL pull out… - if you do not have a strong classroom teacher, students will be impacted. Strong leaders recognize this. This is one reason why schools are offering incentives for highly effective, experienced teachers to work in high needs schools. Strong leaders allow their strong teachers to do what they do best – make a difference in the lives of all types of children. These teachers have a passion for working for the greater good of children. They have proven over and over again that they are an absolute blessing to the kids in their care.
Jesus did not have the ambition to be a worldly king. He had a compassion for the greater good. He knew his mission. Jesus cared about his workers, his disciples, and encouraged them in their work for the greater good of all people. Jesus made himself nothing. He was despised and crucified for his work. Because of his selflessness – Jesus saved the people.
We all know and value a great leader when we see one – it begins with a mission for a greater good rather than a mission for self.