I've never really sought out to be a leader but have always been comfortable doing the work. I've made plans in my head and some partially on paper (or silicon) for a few different business ideas I've had. I can see more now that if I'd ever move on any of my grand schemes, I'd have to be a great leader for it to be successful. Though the text was primarily about being a teacher leader in a K-12 setting, the principles are the same.
I don't know if my definition of leadership has changed but my understanding of it has. I didn't really think about it until now, but my position of Teacher Trainer in the Taiwan ESL school was a teacher leader role, though a formal one and not a more informal one as discussed in the book. At the time, I did a lot of the things mentioned in the text to facilitate improvement but not necessarily system wide change. Thinking about it now, I suppose I could have taken a more leadership role within the Teacher Trainer staff/community and discussed and initiated changes. It wasn't in my blood back then.
My opinion of my leadership potential has probably changed mostly because of the role of Administrator I've had for the past 2-3 years. I've learned a lot about clerical/administrative processes and procedures but have not either taken or been given larger "leadership" responsibilities and tasks. Although my knowledge of what is necessary at the "top" is greater, through this course I have procured a larger toolbox with a larger hammer to nail the role of leader.
I haven't had time to do a lot of formal anything with teachers or students at my school. My butt and brain get more tired than my feet. However, in thinking about some of the things that the book has been talking about I realized that there are things that I can and should do even in my limited capacity of workhorse administrator.
Yesterday, a K5 student who is constantly in the office because of [ insert behavior here ] was in the office again in the afternoon. The teacher however pointed out to me that he had had a really good morning. I made it a point to praise and commend him on the morning and encouraged him to keep it up and to try for a whole day. I'm not out on the floor a lot but I do travel through the school to do this or get that. Today I made it a point to tell a lot of the teachers that I want to assume the role of "good" cop. Whenever you see me, tell me something good that an otherwise difficult student has done and I'll praise and encourage them. A good morning or a good afternoon, a good period or a good assignment, whatever. This is one of the little things that I can do in passing to initiate positive change.
I do agree with the book about improving education from within. Yes, if everyone picks up a piece and puts it in place after turning and twisting it a bit to make it fit. Or perhaps picking up a piece and throwing it away. However, external, personal, societal and other factors are a large piece that factor in as context. Physical and intellectual resources and support that come from outside also play a large role for improvement as well. Change from within can only happen when the other pieces fit in place as well.