I love working around young leaders, they bring an energy to leadership that inspires and
empowers. In my district, all three of our assistant principals are young and I enjoy the times I get to interact with them. I have the pleasure of working alongside one of them. Eric is a young, passionate leader who cares deeply about kids. He understands that the leadership is all about servant leadership and he moves at a quick pace but in a thoughtful, focused, and deliberate way. Working around Eric and other young leaders helps me to keep a fresh perspective on leadership and our purpose of making a difference in the life of every child.
According to Forbes, Millennials currently make up 1/3 of the workforce and that will grow to 50% of the workforce by 2020. This growth in a younger workforce also requires a need for younger leaders to take the helm of our schools. Veteran school leaders have a responsibility to mentor these young leaders and to support their work and efforts. Let us not look down on them for being young for they hold the keys to our future.
In April, I am hosting a Blog Series entitled, "Lessons From Young Leaders." I have asked young school leaders, who I admire, to share what they are passionate about and write in a practical, relevant, and fun way for school leaders. I encourage you to read their stories, learn from their insights, and be inspired and empowered with renewed energy in your leadership. I will be releasing their posts and sharing their story with you over the month of April.
Here are three things that I have learned from Young Leaders:
Balance - I respect and admire the balance between school and personal life that so many of the young leaders I observe hold. They understand that a healthy school leader is one that has a firm balance between family, wellness, and work. They are incredibly dedicated to working out, staying healthy, and maintaining close family and friend ties. Sometimes I allow my workaholic nature to creep in and I am gently reminded by a young leader to maintain balance. This work/life balance is key to leading in a sustainable way over time. Without this, either our family or our work suffers. This balance requires us to spend a large quantity and quality of time with our family and friends, to eat healthy, establish a workout routine, and find time to restore yourself by doing what you love.
Community - It's refreshing to see the priority that young leaders I work alongside place on community. They thrive being around their peers, telling stories, listening to music, or simply just hanging out. These young leaders truly value friendships and a sense of community both in their school and neighborhood. They believe community doesn't stop when they are at work, they work hard to build sustaining relationships with students, staff, and the community. I find that I am always greeted with a friendly handshake, fist bump, or smile from these young leaders. Us more seasoned and veteran leaders can learn a great deal from our young counterparts on how they build relationships.
Connected - Perhaps more than any other leader, the young leader values the importance of staying connected and learning through their relationships. They are skilled in leveraging social media to deepen their learning, strengthen their network, and create new ideas and things. Whether it be scouring Pinterest for the latest idea to use in a classroom, telling their story on Instagram, or connecting with friends/colleagues on SnapChat they use social media to share their story and to connect. One young leader recently told me, "Twitter is for old people, we are on Instagram and SnapChat." When I asked why, he said it's because these tools allow us to tell our story through a pic, video, or live feed. Life isn't lived in 140 characters but through the stories and relationships.
Flexibile - I have found that young leaders are so open to trying new things, taking risks in their leading, and digging into innovative leadership. They have witnessed their rigid veteran counterparts struggle with adapting and adjusting so they are committed to flexing to support to learn and grow. One young school leader shared, "We truly want to be a life long learner and dig into things that are cutting edge. No fault to some veteran principals but they have a good thing going and they just want to keep pressing on their specific goals rather than adjusting or changing."
Here are some of the Young Leaders that will be contributing to the Blog Post Series "Lessons from Young Leaders."
Sanee Bell @SaneeBell Principal at Morton Ranch Junior High Schoo, TX
Megan Black @MaBlackOW Assistant Principal at Olathe West High School, KS
Travis Bloom @mr_tbloom Principal at Eugene Klinger Middle School, PA
Ania Figueroa @learnandteach04 Principal at Forest School, IL
Jennifer Frantz @jenn_frantz Principal at New Hope-Solebury Lower Elementary School, PA
Boomer Kennedy @BoomerKennedy Principal at Forbush, NC
Mariah Rackley @Mrs.RackleyCCMS Principal at Cedar Crest Middle School, PA
Noah Stachelek Assistant Principal at Gettysburg Middle School, PA
Darrell Webb @docwebb1911 Principal at Turner Elementary School, LA