POSTED: March 4th, 2012
I love young leaders. They don’t know what they can’t do. So, they just go for it. It’s fun to watch because there is a process to this. I’ve seen it before. I’ll see it again. Young leaders demanding respect of a vision they hold instead of earning respect for what they have accomplished. I understand that the charter school world is fairly young and therefore accomplishments can’t be measured in time like the rest of education. But, at the same time, there is something to be said for old age and wisdom, especially when it has to do with patience, understanding and making decisions that stay made.
I was young once and understand the need to rush in and slay dragons immediately. Over the years, I slayed a lot of dragons and learned a few lessons about the need to slow down in order to go faster and reach your vision in a more comprehensive and meaningful way. Don’t get me wrong, I still slay dragons everyday – bigger, meaner ones, I just do it in a way that doesn’t create any nasty after effects. But, one of the things I still love is working with the passion of the younger leaders, help where I can and watch for the inevitable growth that comes learning that not all dragons are worth fighting.
Let me give you an example. One time I had an assistant principal who wanted so badly to be a principal. He decided that to prove his worth, he was going to go out at tackle our attendance problem. (It really wasn’t a problem, but in he had a vision so off he went.) I didn’t try and discourage him. I didn’t encourage him either. I just thought that if he was this excited about doing it, who was I to tell him otherwise.
The next day, he came in furious. “Why didn’t you tell me??!!” he demanded. “Tell you what?” I asked. “How horrible it would be.” I grinned and told him, “Because you wouldn’t have listened anyways.”
It seems that during his calling of parents asking why their children had been out of school and getting on them for attendance, he forgot to check on thing; how they were doing in school. He found out that hard way that haranguing a parent of a straight ‘A’ student for missing three days of school was not going to be met the way he thought it would be. Nor did her realize that his title, ‘Assistant Principal’, in and of itself was going to make people automatically accept his parenting advise. But, again, I couldn’t have told him that. It was something he needed to learn on his own.
And, I guess that’s what this entry is about. Younger leaders need to slay dragons and charge castles. Mature leaders need to understand youth and offer guidance and understanding at the right times. We need to help the young mature and offer our support and understanding. Shoving something down someone’s throat won’t quench an appetite. It will only serve to slow down their growth as they work as hard to prove you wrong as they do to prove themselves right.
So for now, I’ll watch, offer my help when asked, and be there to counsel and encourage when things don’t go as planned. I’ll let them know that nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems at the moment. The sun will rise in the east and the next step is easier than the last. And, over time I will see bright young people mature and become leaders who will do likewise to the young leaders they help someday.