The Importance of Effective Listening and The Army Leader

I had always wanted to become a teacher. I know that I have an innate ability to motivate and get students to attempt their best. I have also always known that my end goal was to become an administrator. Within my family, I have been raised by generations of educational leaders. It has instilled in me a passion to motivate and help people reach a common goal. Throughout my teaching career I have had the opportunity to work with and observe various leaders whether that be administrators, education directors, or PLC leads. I have been able to take new and better information from these professional educators. I have seen strategies that work really well and others that I could improve upon once I become a leader. As a leader I plan to instill a community of educators, which includes the faculty and staff, which will work together cohesively to make our students successful.

I want to be a leader who generates trust and respect from all stakeholders. As a leader I will always have goals to motivate my staff and create a positive environment for them. The accomplishments and mistakes that we encounter as a team will strengthen our working relationship. Having an environment that thrives on learning will benefit both the school and our students. Hard work is key to success, so I want my staff to be motivated to work hard and strive for the best possible outcomes every school year. In order for a school district to be successful, it is important to have strong effective leadership. According to article by Kouzes and Posner, effective leaders are honest, forward- looking, inspirational, and competent. I believe it is important for the school principal to be knowledgeable in the duties of an administrator.

To become an effective leader one must demonstrate good communication skills. An administrator communicates with the school board, professional staff, certified staff, students, parents, and district patrons. Having good communication skills allows the administrator, students, and staff members to know everything that is going on in their school building. Positive relationships are established through communication. I feel it is important to know that being a good effective listener is part of having good communication skills. Listening is as important as speaking. Being a good listener sends out several positive messages. If you listen and respond correctly you will show people that you care. This will gain the administrator the trust and respect needed to be a successful leader. As an administrator, I believe effective listening will reduce conflict and improve your personal motivational skills. Listening means paying attention, it requires focus.

I read about three R’s of leadership (there are several variations). Responsibility comes with the job of administrator. They have to make difficult decisions and accept the consequences of their actions. They must strive to do the right thing in the face of adversity. Having responsibility means being risk takers and doers. Part of responsibility lies in being a positive role model for both students and staff. An effective leader must possess resiliency. They need the attitude that they are there for the long haul. They need to be able to get back up and start over when things have failed. To be resilient, a good leader must remain positive and radiate confidence and strength when something does not work. The leader must develop strong relationships. Creating strong relationships gives the administrator staff members they can rely on. Being upfront and honest is most important when trying to establish positive relationships.

A schools success relies on the vision of the school leader, the principal. The principal should help create a vision that will challenge all students to achieve high levels of success. Because of the importance of vision to a school, it must be clear to the entire school community. Sparks (2007) observes that successful leaders must ‘cultivate clarity regarding values and fundamental purposes that are most important’ (p. 13) (Sterrett, 2011). In order for the vision to be successful, the leader needs to set goals and objectives for all stakeholders. The ideal plan should move the school into the future.

Being a good leader requires self-discipline. Self-discipline includes several traits or habits. An effective leader must be punctual. Meeting deadlines, and personal commitments in a timely manner is important. It is important to be organized and persistent. A successful leader should never quit. Leaders must continue to move forward in a positive manner. Having self-discipline will allow the leader to accomplish tasks they set out to do. A school principal should be well organized and demonstrate the willpower and determination to be successful. Being able to control ones thoughts and actions is an important ingredient to self-discipline. An effective leader knows their shortcomings and works to gain improvement.

All effective leaders need to have commitment. The school principal needs to show a strong dedication to the school district. The principal must show a willingness to get involved in school and community. The leaders commitment will show in their attitudes and actions. I feel it is important not to make commitment an impossible burden. Commitment can be the driving force of the school. The more people who become committed to the school through leadership examples, the greater momentum you can generate as a leader.

The effective leader must possess problem-solving skills. I think it is the roll of the leader to minimize the occurrence of problems. Good leaders see problems as a challenge that needs to be addressed and not avoided. The effective leader needs to help groups move forward with problem solving issues. One should be able to create ideas that can be used in problem solving. The leader needs to be able to make effective decisions. Problems are inevitable and good leaders anticipate them. It is important for a leader to tackle one problem at a time. When problems do arise, leaders will have a plan. They should be willing to view problems from a new perspective. Do not solve problems too quickly. A good leader should take the time to gather and process information from all sources.

Part of effective leadership must include self-confidence. I believe being self-confident encompasses a wide variety of skills. A leader possessing this trait will show empowerment, empathy and passion. Self-confidence serves to enhance all other leadership skills. If a leader does not have self-confidence, others will lack confidence in their leader. Being self-confident will help motivate others.

The effective leader needs to be able to motivate and manage people. With these skills the administrator can guide his staff to work efficiently as a group. All those involved in the school will be moving towards the same goals. It is important to note that all of these leadership characteristics are interrelated and often overlap. I think it is important for an administrator to combine leadership styles and skills to be effective.

Ethical behaviors that guide me are honesty, fairness, respect, and trustworthiness. I think that I am very honest and believe that being honest is an extremely important behavior to have. I do not let my own thoughts or judgments sway me. I make decisions based on facts and what is right. I will strive to do what is right and good. Having fairness and honesty, as my guiding ethical behaviors will allow me to gain the respect and trust of my staff. Trustworthiness encompasses several actions, one of which is being reliable and dependable. As a trustworthy person I am able to admit to making mistakes. I work hard to be true to my word. I do not make promises I cannot keep. I believe having strong character and integrity creates a solid foundation for other personal leadership characteristics that are needed to direct one’s ethical beliefs, values and decisions. An ethical leader will be aware of how their decisions affect others. I know that my ethical principles will allow me to put the needs of others ahead of my own.

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