President’s Perspective: Leadership Matters

By Nancy Flatt Meador
December 2013, Volume 37, Issue 4

There is a sign in my office that reads, “Leadership begins with servanthood.”

Principals are in leadership roles that are built on the foundation of service to children, parents, faculty, staff, and communities. As you think about your leadership style, ask yourself, “What ‘core values’ are at the heart of my leadership belief center?”

As I reflect on thirty-two years of service to the education profession and my leadership journey, the following core values have made a difference in leading others.

1. How you treat people is the most important thing.

As principals, we interact with hundreds of people daily. Sometimes we have to engage in difficult and life-changing conversations. This is certainly a challenge. But it is one that can be done with dignity and respect. How we communicate can be the difference in relationships that extend far beyond the workplace.

No one wants to be mistreated—especially in a workplace that focuses on a positive learning environment for children. Honesty and trust are paramount in building and nurturing quality relationships. Relationships matter most in life.

Ask yourself: Are you leading in a way that fosters healthy, positive connections between people—of all ages?

2. Walk your talk.

As educational leaders, it is critical that we follow through on our own expectations and commitments. When providing directions, instructions, and “must dos”—do we follow our own rules? If you say you are going to do something … then do it! Follow through from the leadership level is extremely important. Staff and other stakeholders want to see the leader working as hard as they think they are working themselves.

Ask yourself: Does your faculty and staff see you leading in a committed way? Do they see you walking your talk?

3. Little things matter.

Principals are some of the busiest people that I know. Our work lives are hectic and filled with non-stop responsibilities. It is easy to get caught up in the challenges of the job. But at the end of the day, we need to reflect on what we did to positively impact the day of a teacher, staff member, parent, or student. The little things matter!

Here are some suggestions for showing members of your school community they matter:

  • Take time to write a handwritten note to a student or teacher thanking them for a job well done.
  • Acknowledge the special days for teachers (National Teacher Day, American Education Week). Publish the dates to parents and community members.
  • Make eye contact and acknowledge those you come in contact with. We are always being watched—let others know you are aware of their presence.
  • Smile. It doesn’t cost anything and builds confidence in communicating with others.

Ask yourself: What little things have you done recently to acknowledge and promote the work and accomplishments of others as you lead with the heart of a servant?

Take the time to identify the core values that are at the heart of your leadership belief center. Lead with humility and lead with service. It will make a difference!

Principals make it happen! Leadership matters!

Nancy Flatt Meador is president of NAESP and recently served as principal of Madison Middle School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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