Time to LEAD: Leadership, Exploration & Discovery
SPOON, FORK, OR KNIFE: WHAT LEADERSHIP SKILLS SHOULD I BRING TO THE TABLE?
Which of these skills is necessary for a versatile leader to possess?
4. All of the above
If you answered “D”, you already have some key knowledge of what it takes to be a versatile leader. No two situations are alike. People involved will be unique, and tasks will vary. While newer leaders may rush into a situation with head-knowledge, a mature leader will assess any situation before making a decision. Any assessments completed will provide insight about how to make the wisest decision for all involved. Through assessment, a leader can reflect upon her/his skill set, as well as the skill sets possessed by those around them, and act accordingly. To demonstrate this we interviewed educational leaders local to the Greensboro/Triad (NC) area and asked them how versatility is used in their leadership roles. At every educational level leaders have to make decisions that benefit their classroom as a whole. Our interviewees provided insights into how they employ versatility in their leadership.
In the university setting, the instructor of a one-hundred level course will most certainly run her/his classroom much differently than a four-hundred level instructor. The younger aged students in the one-hundred level class will most likely need more guidance and encouragement than upperclassmen. However, upper-level classes may need more collaboration of ideas than lower-level courses. Dr. Killian Manning, instructor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, says that she uses more “structure and accountability, supplemented with encouragement,” for lower-level courses. By contrast, she says, “For upper-level courses, I typically feed them the information and let them run with it.” In any leadership setting, it is good to know who you are leading, as well as how they need to be led. While some need more encouragement, others have knowledge that fuels ideas for their own learning/work habits.
The skills necessary to lead a given group not only change from classroom to classroom, but also by position. Our second interviewee, Abe Hege of Allen Jay Prep Academy, recently went from classroom teacher to Dean of Students for the middle school he serves. In his teacher role, he says that he had to practice versatility by understanding that he wasn’t just a teacher. For middle schoolers specifically, he says, “you have to overcome the mindset that all you are is a teacher. You are so much more. You are a counselor, doctor, police officer, mentor, etc.” Within his new role, he has even more responsibilities as a leader. Not only does he interact with students for whom he is responsible, but he interacts with teachers, parents, and the community as a whole. This responsibility requires knowledge of classroom dynamics, as well as interpersonal dynamics for relationships among students, teachers, and parents. If he isn’t able to use a diverse set of skills and knowledge for each of these roles, he won’t be able to truly be an effective leader.
We asked Dr. Manning and Mr. Hege for their opinions on leadership in general. Dr. Manning mentioned that she felt it was key to communicate with those whom you are leading in order to assess what leadership skills you will need to be effective. She emphasized the assessment stage of being a leader. Mr. Hege also focused on communication as a key skill for leaders. He stated that, “The biggest leadership skill that you need is communication. It has to be effective and it has to be clear.” Communication is a must if a leader is going to be effective. It is one of the skills that is always needed in order to be a great leader.
Just as in the educational setting, leaders anywhere need to be able to adapt to those whom they lead. While they may not change their personality, a leader must learn how to lead according to the knowledge, skill level, and learning style of individuals/groups being led. A leader needs to be capable of swapping out different leadership skills, depending on the audience. Additionally, great leaders need excellent communication skills, integrity, and an open mind to learning as they lead. Leaders accept that they don’t know it all, and will adapt to new situations. In any and every situation, great leaders are versatile leaders. You never know what is on the menu, so have your spoon, fork, AND knife at the table.
— Caleb Harris & Asia Leath
Time to LEAD features the voices of Communication Studies students at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). Students offer diverse perspectives on what it means to be a leader and share reflections on their experiences. Join us for this weekly series on leadership, exploration and discovery in today’s society.
Today’s post was submitted by Caleb Harris and Asia Leath.