Debi Gooding's Digital Portfoilo

Leadership Philosophy

Debi Gooding

The Leader I Want to Be 

"Leadership is influencing people, by producing purpose, direction, and motivation, while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization” (Army).  

I was once asked what my three greatest assets in leadership are, and what my three greatest leadership challenges are. To be a great leader one must know what their challenges are so that you can work on them. My three greatest challenges are being a visionary, mental toughness, and the ability to stand against the critics.

A great visionary is able to assess a situation, decide what needs to get done and then takes the appropriate steps to achieve the goals they set and bring it to a finished product. The vision needs to be a clear, vivid picture of where to go as well as a firm grasp on what success looks like and how to achieve it.  To be a good leader one must also be able to think long term. It is important not only to understand where the organization is in the present moment, but also to know where it is going and how to get there. With the help of my staff and allowing them opportunities to create goals and ideas will help keep the school viable. This will help with staff buy-in with the vision of the school and the school's culture.

"Some of the most talented people are terrible leaders because they have a crippling need to be loved by everyone." (James Schorr).

A leader needs mental toughness to be able to see things as they are and follow through with the consequences. Leadership creates a certain separation from one’s peers. Many of my colleagues and I have worked together for nine years and we have become great friends. The firing of a teacher is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Not only was he a teacher loved by students and parents but will liked by his colleagues. It was a difficult decision but unfortunately it had to be done. I know that this will be one of my greatest challenges. As a leader you need to understand that not everyone will agree with you, but it is necessary to make decisions based on the good of the school.

While leaders do need to listen to constructive feedback, they may also need to stand firm in the face of opposition to decisions that they feel strongly are right. This is an area I feel all leaders struggle with. I feel through great communication, problem-solving and having an open door policy, this can be tackled.

My three greatest assets are peer respect, dedication, and openness. Peer respect doesn't reveal ability, but it can show character and personality. I have created a safe and supportive environment where staff feels they can come and talk to me at anytime about any topic. I feel, because of this, my staff has greater self esteem and have started becoming leaders of their own. They seem to work as a cohesive team making sure all succeed.

“Dedication involves making the space to let young ideas take hold; every tree was once a seed and every company was once an idea.”(Zephyr Bloch-Jorgensen)

Dedication means spending whatever time or energy is necessary to accomplish the task at hand. A leader inspires dedication by example, doing whatever it takes to complete the next step toward the vision. By allowing staff autonomy and room for growth they will only make our school stronger. Many teachers spend countless hours at home, in their classrooms, on trips grading papers, working on lesson plans, or whatever it takes to get the job done. Teachers make it seem flawless when they walk into the classroom, why not allow them time to work on things they want during school time. It would help with moral and as a leader they know you appreciate the time they spend outside of school time. 

I really enjoyed working under my first principal. He was the type of leader you could always go to even if your problem was personal. He had an open door policy, anyone could come to his office and always felt that you were welcomed and being heard. Good leaders are able to suspend judgment while listening to others’ ideas, as well as accept new ways of doing things. Openness builds mutual respect and trust between leaders and followers, and it also keeps the team well supplied with new ideas that can further its vision. Leaders need to be able to think outside the box, especially if you want you school to be unique and different from others. 

To be a good leader, you need to be a good listener. When people take the time to communicate their opinions to me, I must honor this and give them my undivided attention. Communication is also a very important step in becoming a great leader. If you can not communicate well, staff will not understand what direction the school is going in. I also believe that people need to feel that their opinion matters and that you use it to help make those final decisions.

The most valuable asset of being a leader is honesty and integrity. A leader must be honest with both the employees and the Board of Trustees. Without honesty you will have no one to back you or the organization. Who want s to help an organization that is built on lies and deception. Another valuable asset is integrity. Once a leader compromises his or her integrity, it is lost. A leader must have the trust of followers and therefore must display integrity. A leader who is centered in integrity will become more approachable. People will feel safe to share ideas and problems and help solve for solutions. 

Leadership effectiveness is impossible without consistency. Every leader has an approach that is unique to them. Don't change your personal style radically after all; it got you in a leadership position. Don’t change things to drastically, people don’t like unwelcome surprises. Keep things simple and consistent. 

Becoming a great leader is a lifetime of work; it is not learned overnight or in a year. Becoming a great leader means to foster these qualities and follow through with your vision. Being a leader means you're willing to make mistakes and learn from them. I am excited to venture into my new leadership role and hope I possess many of these qualities to train and shape our staff, families, and students into great leaders of their own. 

“I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers." (Ralph Nader)