Monday, September 21, 2015

The (Sometimes) Reluctant Principal

I have the best job in the world. Being around talented, passionate, inquisitive, creative, compassionate and fun people is inspiring.

Sometimes, however, I'd rather not be "the boss".  At times I'd rather not have the "buck" stop with me. Sometimes I'd rather not have the spotlight. Sometimes I'd rather not "skate into the puck". There are times that I'd rather not have to make difficult decisions. Many of these leadership competencies and responsibilities can be physically and emotionally draining- and sometimes take a personal toll.

There are times when I'd rather not be that person. There have been moments where I have felt like a reluctant leader.

However, these moments of reluctance are overwhelmingly overshadowed by a powerful internal force.  It's a force that comes for an internal restlessness to do what is right for those I serve.

It's a force that comes from a passion and a strong desire to do what is right for students. It is this restless passion that keeps me on this path despite my moments of reluctance. 

Some will read this and wonder...."isn't leadership about confidence and assertiveness?" Yes, I would argue that these are required leadership traits. Nonetheless my reluctance enables me to be more confident and assertive.

More than assertiveness and confidence, my reluctance fosters certain other dispositions and traits.

For example, being a reluctant leader allows me to be vulnerable. I am comfortable asking for help, admitting to my mistakes and letting people know that I don't have the answers.

My reluctance allows me to more reflective and less reflexive.

Being a reluctant leader allows for a natural inclination to include others in decisions - allowing for more collaboration and collegiality. 

My reluctance allows me to trust others. 

Being a reluctant leader forces me to be plugged in to my "why" - always reflecting on my own internal values and compass points.

My reluctance allows me to be a restless learner - always thirsting for opportunities to network, collaborate and learn from others. I'm always trying to figure things out - always wondering if there is a better way....

My moments of reluctance allow me to be humble and rooted in the those that I serve.

I feel blessed to have moments of reluctance because ultimately they make me a better person and a better leader. 

All of this ultimately leads to a fundamental question: What motivates you to lead?  The answer will ultimately define you as a leader. 

As usual, I am still figuring things out and would welcome any feedback...


  1. I enjoyed this post for two reasons. One, I have shared the insecurities, doubts, and emotional toll that you've written about. The other reason iyour post resonated with me is that I often speak with our emerging leaders about the importance of being vulnerable, making mistakes, and reflecting on 'why' we lead.

  2. You've captured the internal thoughts of some our best education leaders very nicely here. These are traits that allow our employees to feel heard, be a part of the process and know it's okay to not have all the answers themselves as well.

  3. Beautifully written and such a delicate dance of leadership. Thank you!