Choosing to Lead

Posted by Dr. Noreen O’Neill, Director of IES & Ivana Ivanovic, Communications Specialist on 3/28/2022 9:10:00 AM

“Are leaders born or made?” It’s an interesting question for those of us who share the responsibility to create exceptional educational experiences in Chester County and beyond. If leaders are born, then some of us are destined to lead, while others of us are excused from the challenges of leadership. Are any of us exempt from leadership because we weren’t born with the right disposition? Or is it incumbent on each of us as educators to lead and to model leadership for others? 

I am part of a group of over 45 educational professionals who are beginning their journey toward becoming better leaders through the Admired Leadership program. It’s exciting to learn with educators from CCIU, Kennett Consolidated School District, Owen J. Roberts School District, Springfield School District (Montgomery County) and Tredyffrin/Easttown School District who are participating in this blended program. We met in person on March 17, and we will continue to meet virtually once a month until we convene again in person in August. The program is facilitated by Dr. Randall Stutman, CEO and founder of the Admired Leadership Institute and Dr. John Sanville, superintendent of the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District. For over 30 years, Dr. Stutman has studied more than 12,000 leaders to uncover the routines and behaviors of leadership excellence. Dr. Sanville has led the implementation of the Admired Leadership program and has seen the benefits to his district. 

The best part of learning about these routines and behaviors is that they can be adopted by each of us! Can you imagine being able to replicate the behaviors of leaders who have followers and who achieve results? Dr. Stutman’s work gives us a bank of leadership behaviors that we can incorporate as everyday routines. In fact, he shared that we don’t need to use all these behaviors to become an admired leader. Simply incorporating some of them will expand our ability to inspire others to follow us and to deliver successful outcomes.  

In preparation for our first session, we were asked to think of three leaders that we admired and why we admired them. One of the leaders that came to my mind was Eleanor Roosevelt, who overcame her own fears and challenges to become a humanitarian leader on the world stage. She would certainly not say that she was born a leader, but that she grew into leadership by facing her fears and conquering them. She said, “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” 

Fortunately, each of us can choose to be a leader; we are not exempt from this opportunity because of our genetics or temperament. We can commit to becoming great leaders so that we can have the greatest positive impact on our profession and those around us. As educators, we believe that everyone can learn … including ourselves. One of our responsibilities is to learn to become better leaders.