Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Against the Odds

Strong Leaders

The person that I consider to be the best leader that I have ever worked with is a strong African American Female that has retired and now resides in Mobile Alabama. She was a principal in a small rural district. Dr. C really understood the meaning of diversity and the true terminology behind the phrase melting pot. She had a true passion for children. She understood their needs and spent countless hours of her personal time supplying entire families with the basic tools for survival. She also acknowledged that leadership is available to anyone that is willing to set goals and follow them. Dr. C. displayed numerous positive characteristics.
· Honest
· Courageous
· Supportive
· Inspiring
· Intelligent

She set the atmosphere in the entire school. She gave respect to all staff members and received respect back. Mrs. C. earned her respect because she was honest, courageous, and supportive. She was worthy of our trust. Her voice never changed with crowd. She stood for what was right and in the best interest of the staff and the students. For example, a parent became very displeased with Mrs. C. because of the dress code. The parent would daily send her students to school out of dress code. She would also call county office and complain about the dress code.

One morning after the students arrived to school out of dress code Mrs. C. contacted the parent and asked that she come in for a conference. This made the parent irate. She cursed, screamed, and demanded that her children did not need to follow the dress code. After the parent finished her show, Mrs. C. kindly asked her to come into the conference room where the teacher and assistant principle was waiting. After listening to the concerns of the parent as a team they began to brainstorm and come up with strategies to help the parent. By the end of the conference the parent was calm and a new member of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA).

Mrs. C. was also very inspiring and forward looking. She was positive about the future and looked to each day with enthusiasm. A leader must be able to communicate the vision in ways that encourage us to sign on for the duration. Mrs. C. made the context of the vision more meaningful. She communicated with positive words and actions. To get extraordinary things completed in this day and age leaders must inspire optimal performances from all stakeholders. Mrs. C. was concerned about the future and displayed a distinct direction that continued to travel upward (Kouzes & Posner, 2003). Even thou the road became rough on several occasions with parents, students, and staff members she stayed on the visionary path and held to the dream of high expectations.

A team approach began to shift throughout the entire school creating a nourishing environment for staff members, parents, and students. I no longer looked at Mrs. C has just the principal. As I recap on the characteristics of this great Leader I realize that she was the glue that held the team together. She possessed the power to break or make the school. I am proud to say that she chose to embrace the school and lead with dignity and inspiration.

In conclusion, I have also had the unfortunate opportunity to work with several weak leaders. They would start with a vision and end with a divided staff and a failing school grade. Clicks would form within the staff driving outsiders to retreat to other schools, mostly outside of the district. One particular leader was so weak until certain staff members could use specific facial expressions and she would change her immediate thought. Only selected butt kissers were allowed to utilize the lines of communication. However, she was later removed by the district office and demoted to a guidance counselor.


Bass, B. M. (1990). Bass & Stodgill’s handbook of leadership: Theory, research managerial applications (3rd ed.). New York: The Free Press.

Clawson, J. G. (2006). Level three leadership: Getting below the surface (3nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Kouzes, J. , Posner, B. (2002). The leadership challenge (3rded.). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

1 comment:

Chris said...

What I like about Dr. C / Mrs. C is that she demonstrated leadership through action, and acted with integrity (speaking the same to a crowd as to an individual). Additionally, she remained calm under pressure when the parent was cursing and yelling. It seems that school leaders will regularly find themselves in conversation with parents who are unforgiving and who may have misplaced anger toward a school leader. The only way leaders can effectively handle such volatile people and tenuous situations is with a sense of calmness and integrity. I enjoyed reading about your mentor.


Chris J.