Someone needs you to lead.

leadershipday2013When I resigned from the principalship this spring following a maternity leave, many emotions emerged.

The most prevalent was a sense of pure relief.


Done with administrivia. Done with mandates. Done with headaches and up-all-night-anxieties. Done with new initiatives and state evaluation systems and paperwork and meetings.

I’d miss the interactions with students, of course. But the rest?

I haven’t once wished I was back in the principal’s chair since I left.

This post is for Scott McLeod’s Leadership Day 2013 event. Its initial title? Why I’m glad I’m not the leader anymore. I thought perhaps that might not fit with the day’s intent, and it certainly wouldn’t get my post shared with a #savmp hashtag anytime soon.

But then I began to reflect on my new role as instructional technology coach, and the work I’ve done with teachers over the summer thus far.

The realization sunk in: I am still a leader. A leader in new ways, in a different form. In a supportive leadership role, where I’m not evaluating anyone at the end of the day, but instead providing guidance and instructional leadership. (And yes, I know that’s a role of the principal as well. Just one of many.) I’m helping teachers find new and meaningful ways to integrate technology in teaching and learning. I’m meeting the needs of individuals, grade level teams, and schools. I still have the opportunity to work with the administrative team I admire so much, and I get to collaborate with so many more teachers and students across the district.

After a day of coaching and facilitating professional development sessions, I feel happy. I feel energized. A million ideas race through my head, and I want to keep busy and plan, plan, plan.

I can tell by the genuine enthusiasm and efforts of the teachers I’m working with, along with feedback I’ve received, that they’re appreciative of my work in this new role. They need me to lead. This is a new position, and I’m providing a resource that was formerly unavailable to the elementary staff.

No matter what your role: administrator, teacher, coach, paraprofessional, student… someone needs you to lead. You might not hold a formal leadership position or assume a title. Your leadership efforts might go unnoticed to those you don’t serve, but that doesn’t matter. Someone needs you to lead. You know things others don’t, and your experiences are unique and will be valued by others.

Leadership isn’t about rank, position, or power. It’s about sharing. It’s about having the confidence and willingness to serve. Lead your teaching colleagues in an exploration of a new instructional strategy. Lead a student in finding his passion. Lead your department in strengthening their communication methods. Lead a global Twitter conversation. Lead something, somewhere, somehow.

Someone needs you to lead.


14 Replies to “Someone needs you to lead.”

  1. Love it! When I first read this I heard my old football coach’s voice talking to us about leadership and how important it is to the success of the team. It is not a position title… so true!

  2. Lyn,

    School leaders that share time, resources, experiences and strategies often enable their own staff to share. The administration within any organization shouldn’t have a perceived monopoly on sharing resources/strategies with staff. Communicating that all stakeholders should be bringing ideas to the table is important. That responsibility shouldn’t necessarily be placed on only administration, but on teachers as well. That sharing is contagious and I’ve found that it has potential to lead to more collaboration within school communities. I should also note that a sharing climate in a school plays a vital role in cultivating teacher leaders. In my opinion, an environment that promotes continuous sharing from all will be in a better position to succeed long-term.


    1. Matt, you make excellent points. We need everyone in the organization to lead and share in one form or another. This is especially important since we are continuously modeling for students that this type of learning and collaboration yields great rewards. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Dear Lyn, just want to say how good you are in leading. Your help, encouragement and inspirational coaching are so effective even when delivered at distance through digital devices…can imagine what could it be to being leaddd by you face to face. I agree with the idea you don’t need a role to be a leader. Every good teacher is leading his/her students every day, cultivating young leaders-to-be in the classroom…because they need you to do it!

    1. Hi, Silvia,
      I very much enjoyed our time together during the ecourse! I learned so much from all of you, and I’m looking forward to our continued connections! I appreciate your kind words and wish you much success in your new principal’s role!!

  4. Lyn,
    I really appreciated your post. I agree leadership is not about position or rank. It is grounded in a genuine desire to be of service to others. You give the gifts of your leadership every day in supporting the learning and growth of those you work with. Thank you for leading the way….

    1. Jennie, thanks for taking the time to read and comment here! I appreciate your kind words and I really thank you for all of the contributions you made to our eCourse space. I know your colleagues are most appreciative as well! Wishing you a fabulous new year… I look forward to continuing to learn from you!

  5. What a great point to make with teachers at the beginning of a new year, Lyn.
    As I’ve encouraged in learning sessions and meetings all week with my staff, we need to collaborate and communicate with each other, but I didn’t mention that everyone has the ability to lead in some capacity. This is a focus we can talk about throughout this year. Teachers can find the area where they are comfortable leading – whether with students, their peers or with parents.
    Thanks for your leading in so many different ways!

  6. Lyn!!!

    Congratulations on taking such a bold and important step! I had no idea. Undoubtedly, I’ve been so very disconnected for the past year-and-a-half given my new acceptance of a principalship (which I do love), but… “new initiatives and state evaluation systems and paperwork and meetings.” Oh my. It is so tough and disheartening to deal with in some ways and I know exactly where you’re coming from. Selfishly, when I just saw this post, a bit of panic set forth within, with an inner dialogue something like, “Oh no – who will be my PA Principal go-to?”. 🙂

    Whilst not nearly connected or contributive enough to my (dare I say ‘former’) online world, you have been a wealth of inspiration and guidance along the way. And, I know in this new role you’ll be just as much a leader. No doubt, you’ve been doing this all along anyway & began there, anyway. Thanks for the perfect timing of this inspiring post as I walk into the new school year pushing my own teachers to take initiative and lead. I believe in them and hope more come around to believing in themselves as the leaders I know they are & can be.

    Here’s to a great school year!

    1. Hi, Suzie! Hope your year is off to a great start. Sorry for my delay in this comment reply! Thanks for your support as I take on this new role. It’s an exciting and fun time! Hope you’ll continue to share with us!

  7. Hi Lyn,

    I enjoyed this article which was on point. However, you omitted teachers from your introduction as things you miss…and Matt’s comment was spot on as well. In my opinion, the most important stakeholders are teachers! When I was a Dept Chair, I had several customers, both internal and external but the ones I valued the most were the teachers working side by side with me in the Department of Communication.

    We all know, it’s all about our students! Lets just not forget their every day classroom leaders our exceptional teachers!

    V/R Don J. Fessenden, Founder

    1. Hi, Don,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment here. Fortunately, I won’t miss my interactions with teachers, because my new job entails working closely with teachers in not just one, but three different elementary buildings. I’ll actually be spending a lot more time engaged in meaningful interactions with these important leaders. Lucky me! We all know the “us vs. them” mentality is real and when it plays itself out in our schools, it’s to the detriment of students. So of course, inspired leadership at all levels is required to work cohesively as a team to do our best for kids.

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