“When peoples care for you and cry for you, they can straighten out your soul.” ~Langston Hughes
Over the past weeks, my leadership class has spent time discussing the qualities of an effective and “good” leader and I’ve quickly learned that this is not an easy task nor is there a magic recipe. One of the desired attributes that stuck out was the ability to have your followers believe that you care and actually care. So, I began examining my personal experience as a follower and realize that the one leader I remember best was someone who I felt cared about me (and other followers), cared about our organization, and the people we serviced. This leader was the second principal that led me during my time as a ninth grade English teacher. He was a retired educator that returned to work as a principal because of a shortage of administrators in the area at that time. At that time, I was around 23 years old and still very unsure of what I wanted to do with my life as I was a recent college graduate. Prior to him hiring me, I worked with a group of at-risk students who were on the brink of failing the writing portion of the statewide Exit Exam for the second time so he was told great things about the results and wanted to hire me. I was quite excited as the time spent with the group made me realize that I wanted to become a teacher. However, the passion I have for the profession and the importance of K-12 education was influenced greatly by him. As an administrator, he was aware of all of his students and teachers personal lives and would personally follow up on issues and/or difficulties. In addition, he took an active role in your success. I would say I felt he believed in me more than I believed in myself. He offered to help pay for classes, tests, and would acknowledge techniques I used in my classroom during staff meetings. In addition, even the students that were disciplined frequently had great things to say about him and would feel a sense of disappointment when letting him down. So what did he do to display this great sense of care? After searching the internet, I stumbled across a list of 10 characteristics of a caring leader and realized he displayed all of them (http://timpeters.org/general/10-characteristics-of-caring-leaders/ ):
- Noticed others.
- Acknowledged others.
- Learned names.
- Maintained eye contact during conversations.
- Asked questions and listened.
- Encouraged others with honest feedback.
- Asked for feedback and opinions.
- Consistently consistent in leadership approach.
- Regularly complimented people both publicly and privately.
10. Expressed genuine interest in the personal life of followers.
As I develop into a leader, I hope to embody these characteristics and maintain a positive outlook about those that follow me as well as those I service. As when people feel you care, they often care in return and feel inspired to follow you – they become invested in you and your cause.
“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” ~ Langston Hughes
Has the American Dream been deferred? I would say for many the answer is a whopping yes. Throughout this past week, our class has discussed and shared literature about the increasing cost of higher education in America via Twitter. We, just as many Americans, have identified the problem but don’t see a solution in sight. So, what does this have to do with leadership? Everything! As President Barack Obama makes strides to correct this faulty system, many people find themselves in debt that will never be repaid, student loans more than a mortgage, or they choose to not attend school for fear of debt. For so long, the United States has been a refuge for the poor and disenfranchised, so education became a tool to attain this dream. Now, Americans focus on the art of getting by which reduces their chances of becoming financially stable and influential. This will eventually cause our nation to suffer – jobs without qualified workers, more people seeking financial assistance from the government, poor neighborhoods become poorer, and the list continues.
How can we begin to fix these problems? We need leaders at every station – in the homes, schools, communities, government – advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves. No part is too small and none too big. In “On Becoming a Leader,” by Warren Bennis… he states, “The world’s hunger for leadership has been growing for years” and then references the election of our president. However, I believe this thirst doesn’t just encompass national leaders – but leaders in every capacity ensuring that our dreams don’t die and our wings never broken.
In the clip below, one states, “The American Dream is not a sprint or a marathon, but a relay.”
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
As an assignment for a doctoral seminar, I have been asked to write about my initial ideas concerning multicultural leadership within counselor education. I believe that to become an effective counselor, one should constantly strive to become multiculturally competent. This is also true of an effective leader. However, what defines a leader? When I hear the word leader, I immediately imagine people like President Barack Obama, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, and so forth. But as I think more about the concept of leadership, a leader is not necessarily someone who has a leadership role or has won a Nobel Peace Prize. I would say that everyone has the capacity to become a leader in his or her own rite.
To become a multiculturally competent leader within counselor education, one must develop an understanding of self, a respect of others and their values, and commit to engage in a life-long journey of self-reflection. In addition, one should strive to be aware of his/her own cultural values and biases, be willing to view the world through the eyes of the client, and remain open to employing interventions comfortable for the client.
As the semester unfolds, I look forward to learning more about how I can become an effective leader. More importantly, I hope to become a leader that facilitates change. As President Barack Obama once said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
Thank you for reading :0)